Should Massachusetts residents in November vote to retain the state’s transgender law?

Vanessa Ford


Vanessa Ford

North Shore resident; Director of training, curriculum, and evaluation for national nonprofit; spokesperson for the Yes on 3 ballot campaign

All of us want to take care of our families. For me and my husband, that means caring for our two beautiful children, including our transgender daughter, Ellie. For us, Question 3 on the November ballot, regarding whether to keep our state’s transgender nondiscrimination law, is about whether Ellie will continue to have basic protections in the state we call home.

When Ellie was born, we thought we had a son. But from a young age, she expressed to us in many ways that she is a girl. She even articulated to us very clearly, “I’m a girl in my heart and my brain.”

At the time, we were scared and didn’t know what to do. We spoke to people we trusted — from family members to counselors to doctors — before finally deciding to trust and support our child in this journey. We’re so happy we did.

Three years later, she’s happier than ever. She is confident and energetic, and loves a good pun. She has an intense zeal for life. But naturally, we worry about her safety and well-being. Transgender people face high discrimination rates, which is why this law is so important. It ensures Ellie can go to the park, the movies, or any other public space without being told she isn’t welcome. It allows Ellie to live her life with the dignity and respect she deserves, like all children.

Opponents claim the law makes women unsafe in restrooms. But it has been in place for two years and we’ve not seen any negative impact. It remains illegal for anyone to commit a crime in a restroom. Allowing basic protections for transgender people hasn’t changed that. I would never support this law if it protected my transgender child at the expense of my non-transgender child.

This law doesn’t impact most people. But for transgender people, it is critical. This law says to children like my daughter: “You are welcome here, just as you are. You have opportunity. You are safe to be who you are.’

Isn’t that what we want for all our children?

For kids like my daughter Ellie, please vote “yes” on Question 3.

Debby Dugan handout


Debby Dugan

South Shore resident, mother of three children and grandmother of six, chairwoman of Keep MA Safe

Voting “no’’ on Question 3 repeals the “bathroom and shower law.” As a grandmother of small children, I feel my safety as well as that of other women, children, and vulnerable people is at risk because the law’s definition of gender identity is too broad and vague, making it ripe for abuse by criminals and convicted sex offenders. In my view the transgender antidiscrimination law was poorly written and has too many loopholes.

The way this law is written, an attempt to block someone who self-identifies as belonging in a women’s locker room, dressing room, or bathroom — including convicted sex offenders — could result in penalties of up to a year in prison, and fines of up to $50,000 for multiple offenses. So, little or nothing can be done to prevent dangerous predators from using the law’s protections to enter these spaces.

As a result, businesses are now put into the position of creating policies that are not in the interest of protecting the safety and privacy of their patrons or employees.

As a result, businesses are now put into the position of creating policies that are not in the interest of protecting the safety and privacy of their patrons or employees. This could lead to a proliferation of incidents such as the case in Hanover last year, where a man allegedly photographed a woman undressing in a Target dressing room.

Also, no law should force a woman to have physical contact with someone if she is not comfortable with it, and she shouldn’t be forced to choose between her livelihood and touching someone she doesn’t want to touch. But this law puts women in that position, as for example a female spa owner on the South Shore who faced a civil rights complaint with the attorney general’s office for declining to wax the genital area of a man identifying as a woman.

The state Legislature passed a law that goes too far, even refusing to include a provision to exclude convicted sex offenders from being covered by its protections. The transgender anti-discrimination bathroom and locker room law needs to be repealed, so that the Legislature can make a better law that protects everyone. That is why I will be voting “no’’ on Question 3 in November.

As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. Anyone interested in suggesting a topic or writing a piece can contact him at

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