Get the Facts: Vote Yes on 3 November 6th
“We have the opportunity to stand up for transgender Massachusetts residents and set a precedent for the nation that we will not permit any form of discrimination.”
-Beth Chandler, YW Boston President and CEO, at a Yes on 3 rally on October 11th.
On November 6, 2018, the citizens of Massachusetts have a duty to stand up for our transgender neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Transgender rights and protections are being attacked on a national scale. On October 21st, the New York Times reported that “the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” If this measure moves forward, transgender people’s identities will be erased in the eyes of the national government.
The Massachusetts-wide ballot question “Question 3” will ask voters if they agree with the current transgender anti-discrimination law which “prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in a person’s admission to or treatment in any place of public accommodation.” A Yes on 3 vote keeps this anti-discrimination measure in place. As an organization that advocates for gender equity for people of all genders, YW Boston wholeheartedly supports voting Yes on 3.
YW Boston is one of the 50 Massachusetts organizations advocating for women that support Yes on 3. While those who oppose the law claim that protections for transgender people will put women and girls at risk, there has been no increase in safety concerns since the law was signed two years ago. Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor and U.S Congressional candidate, debunked these scare tactics at the YW Boston building on October 11th during a “Not in Our Name” rally. Joined by sexual assault survivors and advocates, she stated that women and survivors “will not be a political trope for hate-mongering and division.”
Learn more facts of the bill below, and get out the vote for Yes on 3:
What exactly does a “yes” or “no” vote do?
As stated on Freedom for All Massachusetts‘ website, this two-year-old law added “gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination,” so that places such as hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, and hospitals are prohibited from using gender identity as a basis for discrimination in a person’s “admission to or treatment in any place of public accommodation.” Question 3 asks voters whether they support this anti-discrimination amendment.
A “Yes” Vote keeps the current law as it is, and protects transgender people by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation.
A “No” vote repeals the anti-discrimination provision.
YW Boston held three volunteer phone banks in September and October to support Yes on 3.
What is each side saying?
Parents, law enforcement officials, sexual assault, domestic violence & women’s organizations, business owners, faith leaders, mayors, government entities, colleges and universities, education associations, labor unions, sports teams, and more organizations across Massachusetts know that every Massachusetts resident deserves to live free from discrimination. The primary reason Massachusetts voters support Yes on 3 is they believe transgender people deserve the respect and safety provided by the current law.
Also, it makes business sense to vote Yes on 3. This law ensures that Massachusetts can attract top talent, including transgender employees and those who wish to work in an inclusive community. We have seen corporations and tourists abandon states with trans-discriminatory laws, and instead invest in states with anti-discrimination measures.
The opposition’s argument against Question 3 claims that legally protecting transgender people will lead to misconduct in bathrooms. They claim that men will pretend to be women in order to gain access to women’s restrooms, endangering women and girls.
In the two years since this law was passed, there has been no uptick in safety incidents.
The law explicitly prohibits someone from claiming a certain gender identity with the intent to do harm. It is illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm someone. Massachusetts law remains strong, outlawing assault and harassment. If any misconduct were to occur, it should be reported to the authorities, and the perpetrator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
As Freedom for All Massachusetts states, “Transgender men and transgender women use restrooms and locker rooms for the same reasons everyone does. And when they do, they value safety, privacy, and modesty just like everyone else.” This law has not created any new safety concerns, and for example, gyms with policies protecting transgender people (such as Planet Fitness) have reported no problems. Massachusetts has prohibited discrimination in public schools since 2012, allowing students to use the restroom that fits their gender identity, and the school system has experienced no issues.
This is why YW Boston stands alongside other women-serving organizations to vote Yes on 3. We will not stand for false arguments about women’s safety from those advocating against transgender protections.
Beth Chandler, YW Boston President and CEO, and Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor, at the Yes on 3 rally at YW Boston’s office
Where do Massachusetts voters stand?
A September WBUR poll found that 71% of voters support Yes on 3. It is promising to see such support for the law, but this does not mean our work is over. WBUR found that among the people who said they would vote no on Question 3, only 62% of these voters answered a follow up question stating they did not believe transgender people should be able to use public accommodations in keeping with their gender identity. This means that when asked the follow up question, ‘no’ voters expressed confusion or doubt on their stated position. With the opposition’s fear-based arguments, many voters do not know the simple facts of the bill. In order for Yes on 3 to pass, we must spread the word about why protections for transgender people are so important.
The federal government’s threats to transgender rights demonstrate that this issue is larger than Massachusetts. There is no national law protecting transgender people from discrimination, and only twenty states currently have laws protecting transgender people. Massachusetts has a duty to not only protect its residents, but to set an example for the United States that we will not allow discrimination in any form.
It is not enough to agree that protections for transgender people are important. We must act – we must vote on November 6th.
What can I do?
First and foremost, vote! Find your polling place. Learn about early voting. On November 6th, all polling places must be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m, although many will open as early as 5:45am. Voters who are in line when polls close at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Question 3 is on the back of the ballot – don’t forget to turn it over!
- Speak with your friends and family. Tell them about Yes on 3 and when you plan to vote. Ask them when they plan to vote, and if they are unsure, help them come up with a plan. Share this post with them, or direct them to Freedom for All Massachusetts’ website.
- Volunteer to get out the vote. Freedom for All Massachusetts is hosting events every day until November 6th, all across the state. Choose between phone banking (with a group or remotely), canvassing, or data entry and office help. Find their full list here.
Thank you to Freedom for All Massachusetts for much of the information used here.