Public Accommodations: They’re More Than Just Restrooms!
Did you know that transgender people have no legal protections against discrimination in places of public accommodation in Massachusetts? We can fix this problem by passing the Equal Access Bill.
A “public accommodation” is any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and that provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. The Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law (M.G.L. c. 272, s. 92A, 98 and 98A) defines a place of public accommodation as “any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.”
Why is passing the Equal Access Bill important? Check out these places where trans people can still be discriminated against in Massachusetts. The list may surprise you.
• Hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging
• Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink
• Retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments
• Theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment
• Convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering
• Museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection
• Parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation
• Public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities
• Public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways
• Service establishments, including laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, gas stations, barbershops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, and employment agencies
• Providers of professional services such as law offices, accountants, and insurance agents
• Health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care facilities
• Public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places (where you vote), public information counters and displays
Think it can’t or won’t happen to you or someone you know? Think again. Massachusetts transgender youth and adults routinely experience discrimination and harassment in public accommodations and services.
58% of surveyed transgender people were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodationor service, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.
Imagine what it would be like if you the Basketball Hall of Fame wouldn’t let you in, even with a ticket, because “they don’t serve people like you.”
Imagine being refused admission to Plimoth Plantation because you are transgender.
Imagine a bus driver verbally harassing you and being so openly hostile that you have to get out miles ahead of your stop for fear of your own emotional and physical safety.
Worst of all, imagine being denied admission to an emergency room because they “can’t help people like you.”
How you can help
February 1 is the deadline for Massachusetts senators and representatives to cosponsor the Equal Access Bill. Please call your legislators NOW and ask them to commit to cosponsorship.
Check out our Call to Action for easy instructions on how to find your legislators and what to say to them.
Another way that you can help is to talk up #MAtransbill online.