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Op-ed: Why voting yes on 3 is crucial to Massachusetts’ future

Ben Rutberg

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As college students, it is our duty to be the voice of the younger generation. We have the power to shape our future by the way we vote. We will be living with the results of this November’s election far longer than the rest of the voting population, so it is especially important that we stand up for what we believe in now. For me, and I hope for you as well, that includes voting yes on ballot question 3 to uphold transgender protections in Massachusetts.

I love my state. I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, and I am so grateful for the life and the opportunities that it has given me. When I went to Tufts University and came out as transgender and non-binary, I was overwhelmed by the support I received from my friends and my school. Even in true-blue Massachusetts, however, not all transgender people are as lucky as I am. I have seen firsthand how anti-trans discrimination can devastate someone’s physical and mental health. As soon as I learned there was a ballot question threatening to legalize discrimination against transgender people, I knew that I had to do everything I could for my trans friends and loved ones in this state.

When the Massachusetts legislature overwhelmingly passed the transgender non-discrimination law in 2016, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, it was a major victory for our state. Specifically, for the transgender community, this law made us feel heard, accepted and safe in the Commonwealth. It showed the rest of the nation that Massachusetts is a state that treats its citizens equally with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity.

Rolling back these protections would completely change the landscape of our state, and ultimately, our country. The United States looks to Massachusetts as a model for progressivism, especially when it comes to civil rights. We were, after all, the first state to acknowledge and legalize the right for same sex couples to marry. If we decide to vote no and repeal protections for transgender individuals in Massachusetts, the message we send to the rest of the nation is that it isn’t important to treat transgender people with dignity and respect.

The anti-transgender activists making the case for the no vote are using scare tactics to try to convince the public that the safety of women and children is in jeopardy in public spaces, particularly restrooms. That just isn’t true. Since the law was implemented two years ago, there has been no increase in safety incidents in restrooms. Safety in restrooms is important to all of us – including transgender people. Harassing people in public facilities remains illegal and those who commit crimes are prosecuted, as they should be. The law protecting transgender people from discrimination hasn’t changed that. That’s why the state’s leading safety officials – including the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence – support this law.

For most citizens in Massachusetts, this law has no affect one way or the other. But for people like me, it means the world. I urge you to make sure that you are registered to vote in Massachusetts in time for the November midterm, and that you vote Yes on 3 to uphold transgender protections.

For more information on how to get involved on campus, please email the Northeastern campus contact, Gaby Thurston, at [email protected]

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