The Board of Aldermen affirmed Melrose, Massachusetts’ commitment to defend transgender equality protection ahead of a question that will be on the ballot come November that threatens to repeal such protections, reported Wicked Local Melrose.
The question threatens to strip transgender individuals of the right to use restrooms corresponding to their genders, and otherwise interfere with their use of public accommodations.
The resolution, which was submitted by Alderman Manisha Bewtra, expressed a unanimous commitment to vote yes on Question 3 in November.
A yes vote would keep in place the provisions signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in 2016, while a no would remove the protections.
School Committee member Lizbeth DeSelm expressed her support of the resolution.
“Trans rights, at their core, are human rights,” she said. “When a group of people are denied access to basic services… they are denied the ability to function in public society. They are not merely marginalized, they are told they are dehumanized.”
DeSelm is Melrose’s first elected openly transgender official and said she had been discriminated against in multiple settings.
DeSelm talked about her experience with workplace discrimination, where she was told to go down three flights of stairs to use gender-neutral bathrooms instead of being able to use the women’s room down the hall.
She added that pro-transgender legislation is important not just in protecting those rights on a day-to-day basis, but in easing the way toward acceptance.
“I do not believe that you can legislate societal opinion,” she said. “However, I do believe that by legislating conduct in public spaces, society will in time grow more tolerant, if not more outright accepting.”
A poll done by WBUR in May of this year found that voters were in favor of preserving the law, but only by a slim margin.
According to the poll, 52 percent of voters oppose the repeal, while 38 percent support it.
Many Melrosians – like Judy Tasker, the mother of a transgender son – appreciate and support the resolution and believe that the city has lived up to its motto: “One community open to all.”
“I stress all the time to my son that he’s so fortunate to live in Melrose, that the school system is wonderful and supportive,” Tasker said. “He has grown up knowing that this community supports him.”