No, it's not the 'bathroom bill'

Globe Editorial
Boston Globe
Apr 20, 2010
Transgender people across the state deserve the same protections.

THE LEGISLATURE should pass a sensible bill that would protect transgender men and women from discrimination. But the bill has stalled in the Judiciary Committee, in part because opponents have rebranded it the "bathroom bill" — a name that's as sophomoric as it is misleading. Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker only clouded the issue further over the weekend, when he vowed at his party's convention to veto the "bathroom bill."

Such rhetoric is too dismissive of the barriers facing the relatively small numbers of people who are born as males but live as females, or vice versa. To help them obtain jobs and homes, and to protect them from violence, the legislation would add "gender identity" to race, religion, sexual orientation, and other categories covered by Massachusetts anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws. It's that simple.

However, opponents of the bill have conjured up the cockamamie threat that lascivious heterosexual men will start spying in women's bathrooms and then escape punishment by telling authorities that they feel like women inside.

But police officers and district attorneys will see through those claims. Nothing in the proposed law would impede the prosecution in such cases. Other states have similar laws, and the purported bathroom problem simply does not exist.

Baker's decision to pick up on that divisive rhetoric is disappointing, and he surely knows better. Harvard Pilgrim, the health insurer that Baker headed until recently, has long had a policy forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Transgender people across the state deserve the same protections.