Transgender rights laws have been controversial across the country, but one of the nation’s most liberal states – Massachusetts – could become the first to overturn such protections this fall.
A referendum that would repeal the 2016 state law likely will appear on the ballot in November. The law allows men and women to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity. In other words, men who identity as women are allowed to use the women’s restroom.
Two new polls show the vote could be close. A Suffolk University survey showed that 49 percent of voters would keep the law and 37 percent repeal it. A WBUR poll had 52 percent backing the law and 38 percent wanting to overturn it.
The fact that the law lacks overwhelming support in left-leaning Massachusetts has surprised observers. A Daily Beast columnist wrote, “In theory, an anti-transgender ballot measure shouldn’t stand a chance in a state like Massachusetts.”
“If it were somehow to pass in Massachusetts, it would be very divisive across the country,” MassINC pollster Steve Koczela told WBUR, “and you would start to see these ballot questions popping up in a lot of other places.”
A group known as Keep MA Safe is collecting signatures to put the referendum on the ballot. A “yes” vote would keep the law. Keep MA Safe is urging a “no” vote.
On its website, Keep MA Safe says the law forces “all businesses and ‘public accommodations’ to allow men who ‘identify’ as women into the ladies’ room, and vice versa.”
“For example, a Boston man, who was arrested for refusing to leave the bathroom in a women’s shelter, was recently awarded $20,000 of taxpayer money after he sued the city under a local ordinance that made this bathroom policy the law in Boston,” the group’s website says. “The new state-wide law will allow for incidents like this to spread throughout the entire Commonwealth!”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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Publication date: June 21, 2018