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.

MTPC Call to Action: Equal Access Bill

Demand equal access to public accomodations for transgender people in MA! 

Now‭ ‬is the time‭ ‬to make your voice heard‭!‬ Contact your state senators and representatives‭ ‬BY JANUARY‭ ‬31‭ ‬and ask them to cosponsor the‭ ‬Equal Access Bill.

In November‭ ‬2011,‭ ‬Massachusetts became the‭ ‬16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment,‭ ‬housing,‭ ‬K-12‭ ‬public education,‭ ‬and credit.‭ ‬Additionally,‭ ‬Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity.‭ ‬This law is known as the Act Relative to Gender Identity.

This new‭ ‬law did not‭ ‬include protections in public accommodations,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬Public accommodations‭ ‬include‭ ‬banks,‭ ‬gas stations,‭ ‬beauty salons,‭ ‬doctors‭’ ‬offices,‭ ‬court rooms,‭ ‬hotels,‭ ‬restaurants,‭ ‬shopping centers,‭ ‬theaters,‭ ‬sports arenas,‭ ‬museums,‭ ‬libraries,‭ ‬zoos,‭ ‬beaches,‭ ‬public transit,‭ ‬airports,‭ ‬public streets,‭ ‬sidewalks,‭ ‬and many other places open to the public.

Here’s what‭ ‬YOU can do to ensure all transgender people in Massachusetts have‭ ‬equal rights to‭ ‬use‭ ‬public spaces‭ ‬free of any discrimination.‭ 

     1.) Locate your‭ ‬state officials

‭     2.) ‬Ask for your‭ ‬State‭ ‬Representative or Senator by name.‭ ‬Usually you end up speaking with a legislative aide.‭ ‬Introduce yourself as a constituent.‭ ‬Give your name and town.‭ ‬Tell them that passing the‭ ‬Equal Access‭ ‬Bill is VERY important to you.‭ ‬If they need more information,‭ ‬tell them the bill has been filed as‭ ‬House Docket‭ ‬#1172‭ ‬and‭ ‬Senate Docket‭ ‬#568.‭ 

The Equal Access Bill would add‭ “‬gender identity‭” ‬to existing Massachusetts civil rights law for public accommodations,‭ ‬which currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of age,‭ ‬race,‭ ‬creed,‭ ‬color,‭ ‬national origin,‭ ‬sexual orientation,‭ ‬sex and marital status.‭ ‬Nationwide,‭ ‬15‭ ‬states,‭ ‬the District of Columbia and‭ ‬187‭ ‬cities and counties‭ (‬including Boston,‭ ‬Cambridge,‭ ‬Amherst and Northampton‭) ‬have passed non-discrimination laws or ordinances protecting people on this basis.

If you would like to follow a detailed script when calling,‭ ‬you can‭ ‬find that here.

     3‭) ‬Fill out our Report Results form to let us know how it went.

Another way that you can help is to talk up‭ ‬#MAtransbill online.‭ 

We’d love for you to post to Facebook,‭ ‬Twitter,‭ ‬Tumblr,‭ ‬etc.,‭ ‬about why you are supporting the Equal Access Bill today.‭ ‬Why are public accommodations protections important to you‭? ‬Use the hashtag‭ ‬#MAtransbill,‭ ‬and add‭ ‬#TransMA and‭ ‬#MApoli if there’s room.‭ Here’s a sample tweet:

Stop discrimination in MA public accommodations based on gender-identity/expression. Call sens/reps 1/31! #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)


Ok. Here it is! This is the last push on the Twitter #MAtransbill campaign this month.

Let’s put aside our #TransWk and #TDOR exhaustion for one more day and help make sure that the members of the Joint Judiciary Committee know that we want them to pass the Equal Access Bill out of committee to go for a vote in the full Senate and House.

We can tweet them directly and also ask Senators and Representatives who are not on the committee to encourage their colleagues to take the right step. They need to hear from YOU and your friends and family that equality matters and that in order to be fully equal in the eyes of the law, trans and gender non-conforming folks must be protected from discrimination in all public places.

If you find this information after November 22, that’s ok! The push for the equal rights is ongoing, and it’s never a bad time to let our legislators know that we’re counting on them to protect their people of Massachusetts. You can take to Twitter anytime and let them know that this issue is important to you. Be sure to use the #MAtransbill hashtag so that people can find and retweet you.

Below are tweets for you to copy and paste into Twitter. Be sure to ask current bill supporters to CONTINUE to fight for the bill.

Everyone should tweet these two messages:

Please keep fighting for #MATransBill to protect your constituents! @WBrownsberger @patjehlen @SenJohnFKeenan @RepHenriquez

Care abt ALL your constituents? Support the #MATransBill! @SenKClark @BruceJAyers @jeffroy @danwinslow @RepHarrington

Here are additional messages you can send. You can use whichever message(s) you prefer and then swap in the Committee members’ handles from the list below:

@SenKClark Right to vote is 1 of most important freedoms. Support equal access to voting booths. #MAtransbill

.@RepColleenGarry Why’s it legal to be kicked off public transit if they don’t like “people like you”? #MAtransbill

.@BruceJAyers Everyone should be free to use public streets without harassment or discrimination. #MAtransbill

.@ElectClaire All ppl should have equal access to hospital care, govt buildings & voting booths. #MAtransbill

.@jeffroy All ppl should have equal access to doctor offices, law offices & hospitals. #MAtransbill

.@danwinslow All ppl should have equal access to nursing homes, restaurants & hotels. #MAtransbill

.@RepHarrington All ppl should have equal access to hospitals, libraries & public transit. #MAtransbill

Twitter handles for members of the Joint Judiciary Committee:

Representative Bruce Ayers: @BruceJAyers
Senator Will Brownsberger: @WBrownsberger (already a supporter!)
Senator Katherine M. Clark: @SenKClark
Representative Claire Cronin: @ElectClaire
Representative Colleen Garry: @RepColleenGarry
Representative Sheila Harrington: @RepHarrington
Representative Carlos Henriquez: @RepHenriquez (already a supporter!)
Senator Patricia Jehlen: @patjehlen (already a supporter!)
Senator John Keenan: @SenJohnFKeenan (already a supporter!)
Representative Jeffrey Roy: @jeffroy
Representative Dan Winslow: @danwinslow

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also contact the Committee members offline (especially ones who don’t have Twitter accounts):

Katherine Clark, Senate Chair; Gale D. Candaras, Senate Vice Chair (no Twitter); William N. Brownsberger (already a supporter!); Patricia D. Jehlen (already a supporter!); John F. Keenan (already a supporter!); Richard J. Ross (no Twitter). In the House: Eugene L. O’Flaherty (no Twitter), House Chair; Christopher M. Markey (no Twitter), House Vice Chair; Bruce J. AyersClaire D. CroninSean Curran (no Twitter); Colleen M. Garry; Sheila C. HarringtonCarlos Henriquez (already a supporter!); Kevin J. Murphy (no Twitter); Jeffrey N. RoyDaniel B. Winslow.
#TransWk: Policy Updates from ED Mason Dunn

In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, I wanted give you a policy and advocacy update from MTPC. It’s been an exciting year, and not just here in Massachusetts!

First, I have to mention the Employment Non-Discrimination Act: this legislation is an important step to ensure trans people across the country are safe from discrimination in the workplace. As many of you may have heard, last week ENDA passed the U.S. Senate. After several years of work and advocacy, this important legislation is moving forward for the first time. This is an exciting victory, but ENDA still has a ways to go. You can learn more about ENDA, the next steps, and what you can do to help from our friends at NCTE.

Of course, here in Massachusetts, non-discrimination in the workplace was achieved in 2011 with the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Law. However, the move toward equal rights for the trans community is still incomplete. MTPC, along with several coalition partners, are working on the Equal Access Bill, which will add public accommodations to the non-discrimination laws already in place. This past July we presented testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary about the importance of equal access to public accommodations. The bill is still in committee, and we are asking legislators on the committee to move the bill forward by reporting it favorably to the state House and Senate.

As we have seen in past legislative efforts, our stories are a powerful tool in moving the hearts and minds of legislators. If you have a story of public accommodations discrimination, please tell us. Learn more about public accommodations and then share your experiences with us. Every story help!

In addition to legislation, our Policy Committee has been hard at work preparing a report on shelter policies. The report will be released soon, so check back to hear more about policies of trans-inclusion in our state’s shelters.

As always, MTPC is available as a resource to you: if you have questions about policies, are interested in getting involved, or simply want to hear about our programs, please contact email us at

We look forward to hearing from you!

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We’re all emotionally exhausted from #TransWk and #TDOR. But we can’t rest just yet. We hope you’ll stick with us for just two more days to finish up our Twitter campaign to raise awareness and build support for the Equal Access Bill in Massachusetts. This is such important legislation, and MTPC needs every bit of help you can give to make sure we finish the work in securing full legal equality and protections for trans folks in the state.

Today, please copy and paste the tweets below to let the Equal Access Bill’s sponsors know that you appreciate their support. A barrage of separate tweets from individuals demands more attention than retweets from an organization do. Please post these as original tweets and ask your friends and family to RT you.

Tomorrow we’ll post a list of educational tweets that you can send to your own state senators and representatives who have not sponsored the bill. It’s time to change their minds! But for today, here are your tweets:

Equality for #transgender & gender-nonconforming folks matters to me. RT me today & tomorrow to help pass the Equal Access Bill #MAtransbill

In MA, a public accommodation is any place open to the public to provide goods or services. Everyone deserves equal access! #MAtransbill

58% of #transgender residents in MA report harassment in public places. Support the #MATransBill to protect them!

To learn more about getting public accommodations protections for trans youth, adults & families, visit #MATransBill

Thanks 2 @deniseandrews for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepCoryAtkins for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepRuthBalser for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepBrodeur for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Gailanne Cariddi for sponsoring Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepTomConroy for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @marjoriedecker for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Tricia Farley-Bouvier for sponsoring the #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Fox for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill  #mapoli

Thanks 2 @Garballey for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill  #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepKenGordon for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @DWGregoire for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepHenriquez for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @PaulHeroux for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Hogan who sponsored the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepKevinHonan for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @repjaykaufman for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Keefe for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @repkay for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Kocot for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Lawn for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepJasonLewis for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepDavidLinsky for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @replizmalia for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @BrianMannal for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @ERepMichlewitz for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @ElectJimODay for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @skpeake for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Provost for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Coakley-Rivera for sponsoring #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @ByronRushing for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @Jeffrey_sanchez for sponsoring #MATransBill. #mapoli #Transgender

Thanks 2 @TSannicandro for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Scibak for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @carlsciortino for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Smizik for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 Rep Story for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @repswan for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @AaronMVega for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @RepChrisWalsh for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill. #mapoli

Thanks 2 @JamieEldridgeMA for sponsoring #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @SenKenDonnelly for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Sen DiDomenico for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @DanWolfMA for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @Sen_Jim_Welch for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @BarrettSenate for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @SoniaChangDiaz for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @BenjaminDowning for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 Sen Thomas McGee for sponsoring #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @SenStan for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @PatJehlen for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @CindyCreem for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @KarenSpilka for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @WBrownsberger for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @SenChandler for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

Thanks 2 @SenJohnFKeenan for sponsoring the #Transgender #MATransBill #mapoli

We’re Still Standing

MTPC is so grateful to all of you who testified or sat in the Gardner Auditorium Tuesday wearing I <3 Trans stickers to show your support of the Equal Access Bill (House Bill 1589/Senate Bill 643). The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary hearing was a long one. Senators, Representatives, and the public were allowed to speak on any of 209 bills being considered that day, so it’s not so surprising that the endeavor took over 11 hours and ran past midnight.

For those of us who stuck it out, it was well worth the wait. Throughout the afternoon, evening, and then night the bill’s sponsors, representatives from transgender-supportive organizations, and trans* community members made the case for full legal equality and told personal stories of discrimination as they urged the committee to stand on the side of justice. A final panel of four Equal Access Bill supporters gave the second-to-last testimony before the committee adjourned the hearing. You can relive the action by reading MTPC’s Twitter feed or checking out everyone who posted with #MAtransbill.

We need to keep the pressure on so that the members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will pass the bill along to the full Senate and House for a vote. Please thank the committee members for hearing the testimony and ask them to support the bill. You can adapt our easy-to-use letter template. Please let everyone how important it is to have equal access to public accommodations. Post the graphic below, share your stories, and show your support on Facebook at Twitter using the hashtags #MAtransbill and#TransMA.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can call or arrange to visit your Senator and Representative in person. Please let us know in advance so we can give you resources to prepare for questions they might ask. And it’s also important for us to keep track of which senators and representatives have been contacted by their constituents and which have not.

The fight has just begun. Are you in?