PBHA Supports Transgender Anti Discrimination Law

PBHA supports Senate Bill #735 and House Bill #1577 which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in places of public accommodation.

On November 4, a Houston ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, city contracting, and business services based on sexual orientation and gender identity was rejected by 69% of voters. Opponents claimed that the ordinance would allow men to use women’s bathrooms—fearmongering, transphobic rhetoric we’ve seen here in Massachusetts too.

PBHA supports Senate Bill #735 and House Bill #1577, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in places of public accommodation. As an organization that upholds diversity and social justice, we believe that protecting transgender rights in medical offices, hotels, restaurants, and public transportation is central to building communities where all can thrive.

Ordinances prohibiting bias based on gender identity in public accommodations already exist in Boston, Somerville and Cambridge. The Senate and House bills would extend similar protections across the state. However, efforts to protect transgender rights in public accommodations statewide have in the past been hindered by claims that women would be assaulted in public restrooms by transgender and gender nonconforming individuals using the “wrong” restroom.

We reject these claims. Transgender folks are in fact more likely to be the victims of assault and harassment. The most recent national transgender discrimination survey found that 53% of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, and 63% reported experiencing a “serious act of discrimination,” which included physical assault due to bias, sexual assault due to bias, and denial of medical service due to bias. Nineteen percent of respondents also reported experiencing homelessness because they were transgender/gender non-conforming.

PBHA, whose programs include the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, Y2Y, and seventeen youth mentoring programs, is committed to not only providing essential services but also to combating the structural issues that our constituents face.