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Freedom Massachusetts passed in the Senate

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Grace Godin, center, advocating for the LGBTQ+ community at Boston Pride 2015 with fellow Greater Boston PFLAG interns. PHOTO/ Courtesy of Greater Boston PFLAG

By Julia Metraux

Freedom Massachusetts was passed 33-4 in the Massachusetts state senate after months of advocacy and hearings.

The purpose of Freedom Massachusetts is to add on additional protection to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protecting transgender people from public discrimination. WHS senior Jessica Mosher, who interned at the State House, said the senate’s decision was a great success, but the journey for civil rights for transgender people will not end with this bill.

“If the house rejects the Freedom Massachusetts bill or the governor vetoes it, it has to go back or be overturned by a 2/3 vote,” Mosher said.

Junior Leo Palmer, who identifies as gender nonconforming and works at Justice Resource Institute’s Boston GLASS, said this recent development comes with negative aspects as well.

“I’m disappointed it took so long for my home state to protect [transgender] people,” Palmer said.

WHS was one of many schools to show its support for the Freedom Massachusetts bill. In February, WHS Gender-Sexuality Alliance sponsored a pledge in support of the bill. In response, Governor Baker’s office concluded that this is an ongoing dialogue.

“Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding your school’s support of Freedom Massachusetts,” the Constituent Services Aide at Governor Baker’s office wrote. “We understand your concern about this issue, and we are grateful to have your voice as part of the discussion.”

Grace Godin, a Newbury College student has fought for Freedom Massachusetts to be passed by working with groups such as Greater Boston PFLAG.  Godin identifies as a transwoman.

“There have been situations where I have been discriminated against for being trans. One time I was in an Uber, and the driver went off about how disgusting trans people like Caitlyn Jenner are,” Godin said. “He didn’t know that I am trans since I ‘pass’ in a heteronormative, cisnormative standard. When I corrected him, we got into a heated argument.”

Transwoman Delilah Seligman, who grew up in Needham and will be a Columbia University graduate student in the fall, said that she has fortunately not been in danger, unlike the sad reality that some members of the trans community face.

“I’ve definitely been stared at on the train or misgendered by store clerks pretty often,” Seligman said. “I remember last spring break, when I was walking down the street talking to my friend, and someone passing by me said to their friend, ‘Wow her voice is so low. Is that a dude?”

According to Seligman, the senate passing Freedom Massachusetts makes her feel more accepted by her home state.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic about the ruling. It’s so important to me that my home state is able to listen to reason by supporting the rights of my community,” Seligman said.

Freedom Massachusetts is not the first LGBTQ+ rights bill to face scrutiny, according to Mosher, nor will it be the last.

“This same sort of issue occurred back in 2002 … when they voted on the gay marriage bill,” Mosher said. “People in America are becoming more aware about the LGBTQ+ community, and it is leading to more and more conversations about policy and how to respond to this. Obviously, it’s sparking a whole lot of controversy. But these are things we need to talk about.”

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Freedom Massachusetts passed in the Senate