Anti-trans sentiment is proving to be a driving factor in the upcoming midterm elections in Massachusetts.
This November, voters in that state will have a chance to vote on 'Question 3' which will determine the fate of the state's anti-discrimination ordinance, which currently protects trans people. The bill passed in the state legislature and was signed into law on July 8, 2016 by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.
Question 3 reads:
"Do you approve of a law summarized below, which was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate on July 7, 2016?"
According to the ballot summary:
"This law adds gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement. Such grounds also include race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry. A 'place of public accommodation, resort or amusement' is defined in existing law as any place that is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public, such as hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports facilities, and hospitals."
Voters in Massachusetts can vote:
"YES: A 'yes' vote supports upholding Senate Bill 2407, a bill to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public places—such as hotels, restaurants, and stores."
"NO: A 'no' vote opposes SB 2407 and repeals the law designed to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public places—such as hotels, restaurants, and stores."
An outside group calling themselves "Keep MA Safe"—which opposes the anti-discrimination law—released their first "Vote NO on 3" ad and it's as despicable as expected.
NOTE: Guacamoley chose not to include the ad directly in this article, but it can be viewed through this link.
The ad plays on all of the same tired tropes that equate transness with sexual predation.
Focusing again on the image of the helpless damsel in distress of a young, possibly underage, White woman, the ad employs fear-mongering, claiming if we let trans people use the bathroom, 'women and children will be in danger'. It is worth noting this was the same argument used to enact and maintain segregation laws in the Southern United States for decades.
The ad depicts a cis woman using a locker room to undress as a cis man watches from inside a stall, moaning.
Over the image we hear:
"What does Massachusetts Question 3 mean to you? It means any man who says he is a woman can enter a women’s locker room, dressing room, or bathroom at any time—even convicted sex offenders."
It then goes on to make the dubious claim that if a woman complains about being harassed in the bathroom, they will be arrested themselves and fined up to $50,000. What is perhaps being referred to here is that the current anti-discrimination ordinance means that if a person harasses a trans person in a place of public accommodation, they can be arrested and fined dependant on the severity.
The purpose of the law and fines is an effort to protect people being harassed, not the harassers. Statistics show trans people are much more likely to experience harassment in a public restroom at the hands of a cis person than to be the ones doing the harassing.
Though, according to Think Progress, much of this particular claim is entirely made up. After reviewing Massachusetts law, they reported:
"Likewise, the claim that women will be punished for reporting suspicious activity seems to be invented out of whole cloth."
"None of the laws related to discrimination dictate fines more than a few thousand dollars, and that’s for actual discriminatory acts.
"Even false reporting of a crime only results in fines up to $500 under Massachusetts law."
Numerous studies show trans people pose zero risk to women and children in bathrooms, shower rooms and changing rooms.
The law on the books explicitly forbids a cis person impersonating a trans person to gain access to gendered spaces.
Also, these bathroom debates always entirely erase trans men and nonbinary people from the conversation. They ignore the fact that forcing trans people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth would mean putting men into women's restrooms by way of making trans men utilize spaces reserved for women.
And people on Twitter felt Massachusetts was above this kind of fear-mongering and hate.
Others pointed out its ridiculousness.
And others, including the ACLU's Chase Strangio, raised the alarm bells about question 3.
And just to close:
trans women are women,
trans men are men,
nonbinary people are nonbinary people,
we are who we say we are,
and we all just want to pee!
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