Are you wondering why Massachusetts needs to pass an Act Relative to Equal Access in Hospitals, Public Transportation, Nursing Homes, Supermarkets, Retail Establishments, and all other places open to the public? Below are just a few of the consequences of transgender people not having equal access to public spaces.
Imagine trying to get a drink with friends and being refused service based on your gender identity or expression. This is a harsh reality transgender residents of Massachusetts face daily. In 2010 in Peabody, a group of trans women were attempting to meet for a social function at a local restaurant. They were refused services because their licenses did not “match their appearances.” When the women challenged this, the establishment’s management told them their entrance denail was “due to the length of their skirts.” After filing an unsuccessful mediation with the Peabody Licensing Board, the women took their case to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and ultimately won their case.
Being refused service at a restaurant is frustrating, embarassing, and hurtful. Being outed in front of others could even lead to physical danger. And it gets worse. Public accommodations also include places like doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, nursing homes, and more. Whether it be a routine primary care appointment or admission to an emergency room, transgender individuals can still be turned away under current Mass. law, all because the doctor or attending nurse on duty “Doesn’t treat people like you” or thinks your case is “A separate thing” to be addressed by mental health professionals instead of a clinician.
This was the case for MTPC steering committee member Mycroft Masada Holmes. During a medical appointment in Boston, Mycroft came out as transgender while discussing medical needs and history. The doctor became visibly uncomfortable. “She really was not pleased and just more and more seemed to want to end the interview,” said Mycroft. Without the Equal Access Bill, transgender individuals in Massachusetts will continue to face situations like this.
But don’t take it secondhand from us, hear it straight from Dagen, a Massachusetts resident who is currently affected by the lack of equal access to public accommodations. For Dagen, many of the problems he has faced in finding a primary care physician have been based in ignorance more than cruelty or blatant discrimination. He had to approach more than 30 doctors before finding one he felt could deal with a trans patient. And, even so, he had trouble scheduling a pap smear. Hear it in his own words.
Once public accommodations protections are in place, health care providers should receive instructions about how to implement the law, including best practices recommendations. This information will teach them about what being transgender is and how to provide good and compassionate care.
Check out our Call to Action for easy instructions on how to find your state legislators and what to say to them. February 1 is the deadline for Mass. senators and representatives to sign on as cosponsors of the Equal Access Bill. Please call your legislators NOW and ask them to commit to cosponsorship.
Another way that you can help is to talk up #MAtransbill online. Here’s a sample tweet:
Stop discrimination in MA public accommodations based on gender-identity/expression. Call sens/reps 1/31! http://www.masstpc.org/take-action/contact-elected #MAtransbill
If you’d like more information, please check out these resources:
- 2013 Equal Access in Public Accommodations Legislative Brief (PDF)
- What Are Public Accommodations? (PDF)
- Consequences of Not Having Equal Access Protections in Public Accommodations (PDF)
Thank you for your support!