On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters decisively rejected a transphobic attempt to repeal a civil rights law.
Sixty-seven percent of voters said “yes” to ballot Question 3, which asked if the state should uphold a law that allows people to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. It’s also the first time voters have chosen to uphold a law protecting transgender people’s bathroom use.
Transgender activists and advocates are hailing the victory as an indication that states supporting similar so-called bathroom bills, which try to legally restrict public facility use based on genitalia, are a losing trend in the fight over LGBTQ rights.
“Tonight’s victory illuminates the path forward amidst a particularly dark time for transgender Americans across the nation,” Masen Davis, the CEO of Freedom for All Americans, a group that backed the campaign to uphold the law, said in a statement. "We’ve permanently reframed what it means to treat transgender people with dignity and respect, and this campaign will serve as a roadmap for future victories.”
The vote followed a particularly nasty fear campaign promoted by supporters of Question 3, who claimed that cisgender men would use the transgender protections to prey on women and girls in public restrooms — even though there is virtually no evidence to suggest that such a scenario like this has ever even occurred, much less presented a threat. Transgender people make up a tiny minority of the U.S. population and are among the most vulnerable to hate crimes. Transgender people — especially teens — are also far more likely than cisgender people to attempt or contemplate suicide.
The win in Massachusetts is just one battle in the larger war, however. On the federal level, President Donald Trump’s administration recently mulled erasing the transgender identity from federal recognition entirely. Democrats, who retook the House Tuesday, have promised to pass legislation that protects LGBTQ people under civil rights law.
Cover image: Along Michigan's Route 69 a billboard reminds citizens to vote in the approaching midterm elections in Flint, Michigan Sunday October 28, 2018. Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images.