Yesterday, Massachusetts’ Judiciary Committee considered legislation “outlawing transgender discrimination in employment, housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations. The bills also would add offenses involving gender identity and expression to the state’s list of hate crimes.”
While some opponents warned that the bills would lead to sexual assaults in bathrooms, undermine morality, harm children, and overburden state residents, others demonstrated their unfamiliarity with transgender issues entirely. In the clip below, Massachusetts Rep. Sheila Harrington (R) asks two transgender witnesses if transgender people are able to change their genders on a “day-to-day basis”:
HARRINGTON: “I’m not sure if this means that on a day-to-day basis you could be appearing as a woman or appearing as a man, but in your own identity and your own feeling of self you would be the other gender….”
GUNNER SCOTT (Dir. of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition): “I think one thing to understand is that transgender people, first many of us struggle with this for many years and at the end of the day we want to blend in and not stand out. As somebody who identifies as a man, presents as a man, according to my birth certificate it still says I’m female. And so what the opponents would say is that someone like me who looks male should be going into the women’s room. And I know that that’s wrong because I would make women uncomfortable.”
Four Massachusetts cities have already passed protections on the basis of gender identity or expression. If the legislature approves the measures, the Bay State will join “15 other states, including every other New England state except New Hampshire, in outlawing transgender discrimination.” Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), “Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and Gov. Deval Patrick all submitted written testimony in support of the bill.” Attorney General Martha Coakley testified in favor of the legislation.