By: Shraddha Gupta
Statehouse Correspondant/The Sun Chronicle
Responding to the new state law on transgender rights, the Attleboro area’s locker rooms and bathrooms in local gyms have transitioned to “all inclusive” for transgender people.
But the long debate over transgender rights in public facilities is far from over as opponents set sights on a ballot referendum in 2018.
The law, passed by the Legislature earlier this year, went into effect Oct. 1, opening access to transgender identity in the state.
For the Hockomock Area YMCA which operates branches in North Attleboro, Foxboro, Mansfield and Franklin, and the Attleboro YMCA, the change has required preparation and training.
“Our staff have been educated and trained on the new law and are prepared to answer questions,” said Tony Calcia, the YMCA’s vice president for child protection and social responsibility at Hockomock. “Our training focused on our philosophy of inclusion throughout our Y’s and a legal overview on the law.”
“Because many people have limited experience and knowledge with the new law and the individuals it seeks to protect, open and frank discussion at all levels are encouraged to ensure better understanding,” said Robin McDonald, the CEO of the Attleboro YMCA.
According to the law guidelines issued by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, public accommodations include, but are not limited to, hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports stadiums, health and sports clubs, hospitals, transportation services, museums, libraries and parks.
After years of political and social debate, the bill cleared the House on a vote of 117-36. But controversies continue to shadow the effort.
The conservative Massachusetts Family Institute says it has collected nearly 33,000 signatures, more than the 32,375 required to ensure ballot access. The ballot question committee Keep MA Safe said that hundreds of volunteers came forward to collect signatures resisting “radical transgender policies.”
Healey believes otherwise, expecting no serious issues now that the new law has taken effect.
“We went through this a few years ago when there were protections for transgender people put in place in the law when it came to things like looking for an apartment or looking for a job or going to school,” the attorney general said on Boston Herald Radio last week.
“We saw after that that once implemented there were no incidents, there were no problems or difficulties with implementation. I expect the same thing to happen here.”