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Mayor Walsh announces support for transgender anti-discrimination legislation

Today, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced his support for Senate Bill 735 and House Bill 1577, which would ensure transgender people in Massachusetts are protected from discrimination in public places. The new legislation would extend state non-discrimination laws by adding gender identity to the list of protected classes, granting explicit protection for transgender people in public spaces.

"I am proud that Boston is committed to providing protection from discrimination in public places, regardless of gender identity," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh.  "Everyone has the right to enjoy retail stores, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, theaters, public parks, and public transportation. Our diverse and inclusive community is what makes Boston so strong. I call on the Legislature to pass this bill so we can do more to provide tangible protections to all of our Commonwealth's residents and visitors."  

In addition to Boston, eleven other Massachusetts municipalities uphold local non-discrimination laws for public accommodations including: Amherst, Brookline, Cambridge, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Northampton, Salem, Somerville, Swampscott, and Worcester. Municipal leaders from each of these communities are joining efforts under the banner Mayors for Freedom, co-chaired by Mayor Walsh and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, to support the adoption of this legislation.

"We applaud Mayor Walsh's early and active support of transgender Bostonians and Bay Staters," said Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of the Freedom Massachusetts campaign to pass An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination. "The leadership of Mayor Walsh and the other mayors and town administrators across the state speaks volumes about the benefits each of these leaders has seen in their respective jurisdictions after enacting these local ordinances. We hope the entire Commonwealth will enjoy these protections as soon as possible." 

Senate Bill 735, An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and House Bill 1577, An Act Relative to Gender Identity and Non-Discrimination, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Byron Rushing and Representative Denise Provost are currently pending before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. 

The City of Boston has seen complete compliance since enacting non-discrimination laws to include protections for public accommodations in 2002 and continued to create initiatives for inclusiveness. Last year, Mayor Walsh recommended the City's health plans cover gender reassignment services and procedures. The Public Employee Committee voted to add coverage, which began on July 1, 2014. This year, Mayor Walsh established gender-neutral restrooms outside the Mayor's Office and the City Council Chamber. The change helped to make Boston City Hall a safer community for people who identify as LGBT or who live with a disability requiring assistance from someone of the opposite gender.

Mayor Walsh will continue working to build an inclusive community in Boston and support statewide non-discrimination legislation, S.735 and H.1577, to help eliminate discrimination and protect the civil rights of all.

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