BOSTON — In the wake of fervent national debate over transgender rights, Massachusetts legislators in the Democratic-led House on Wednesday passed a bill that would expand existing protections for transgender people in the state by allowing them to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
The Mass. State Senate—also controlled by Democrats—approved similar legislation in May. Moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Baker also recently announced his support of the measure.
“No one should be discriminated against in Massachusetts because of their gender identity,” Mr. Baker said on Tuesday after avoiding voicing his approval of the bill for months.
According the The New York Times, “Massachusetts passed protections in education, housing and employment for transgender people in 2011; the current bill adds those protections in public accommodations. Criticism of transgender protections here and around the country has focused on whether they would allow male sexual predators into women’s restrooms. The House’s measure, unlike the Senate’s, directs the state’s attorney general to issue guidelines for law enforcement ‘for any person who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.’
Mr. Baker, who faced mounting criticism from progressive groups here for not indicating whether he would sign a bill, cited that provision in announcing his support for the bill on Tuesday, saying it ‘addresses the concerns that some people have with the bill.’ The House and Senate versions of the bill will have to be reconciled before a measure can reach the governor’s desk.
The Massachusetts bill is not a groundbreaking measure — 17 states, and Washington, D.C., already provide such protection — but advocates have welcomed its progress at a time of heated controversy over transgender rights.”