Boston Monday became the first city in Massachusetts to fly the transgender pride flag.
Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh raised the flag along with activists and other elected officials. Lawmakers are currently "pushing a bill aimed at creating anti-discrimination protections for transgender people, allowing them to enter a bathroom based on their gender identity,"in the state, reports MassLive, a website for several Massachusetts newspapers.
"We've proven there's nothing to fear from being inclusive," Walsh told MassLive. "Quite the opposite. We are safer, we are stronger when everyone enjoys the same protections."
Both the House and Senate versions of the measure -- House Bill 1577 and Senate Bill 735 -- have been advanced by the state legislature's Judiciary Committee. The Senate version of the bill is up for debate May 12, reports MassLive. Massachusetts currently has antidiscrimination protections for trans people in employment, housing, and other areas, but not in public accomodations. Boston has had a trans-inclusive public accommodations law since 2002.
Those who oppose the bills say it would create "privacy violations in women's bathrooms," reports MassLive. Despite this belief, there has never been a verified report of a transgender person attacking a cisgender (nontrans) person in a bathroom, and the "bathroom predator" myth has been thoroughly debunked.
The Massachusetts legislation comes at a time when states such as North Carolina have passed anti-LGBT laws. North Carolina recently passed House Bill 2, which forces transgender people to use public restrooms or locker rooms that do not correspond with their gender identity. It also bans local governments from including sexual orientation and gender identity in antidiscrimination ordinances, and bars residents from filing discrimination complaints in state court.
The flag-raising in Boston was encouraging to LGBT activists. "I've been an advocate for transgender rights for over 10 years now, and this is the first time I actually get to see it raised, and that means more than I can possibly explain," Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, told MassLive.