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EXCLUSIVE: Laverne Cox Headed to Massachusetts To Battle Anti-Trans Vote

In one of the surest signs that LGBTQ activists are leaving nothing to chance in the fight to uphold transgender protections in Massachusetts, Laverne Cox is headed to the state to campaign.

If they can roll back public accommodations for trans folks in Massachusetts, they can do it anywhere,” the actress tells INTO. “I know this isn’t what the citizens of Massachusetts want. So I want to do my part to amplify this fight.”

Cox has been among a chorus of public figures denouncing efforts to repeal public accommodations protections at the ballot box in Massachusetts in November.

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Cox will be joined by Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin at an invite-only event Wednesday in Boston with transgender students, parents, and advocates.

“I have chosen to lend my voice to the Yes on 3 campaign because trans lives matter, because trans people having access to public accommodations without discrimination is essential to us being full participating members of society,” Cox says.

The measure, Question 3, is the nation’s first-ever statewide referendum on transgender rights. Voters will decide if they want to repeal public accommodations protections that allow trans people to use restrooms that best align with their gender identity.

LGBTQ advocates in the state are hopeful but worried about the fate of the anti-trans measure. They have the backing of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, and a broad coalition. However, it’s a “Yes” vote that will defeat the measure, fueling some confusion among some supporters.

Keep MA Safe has pushed a series of ads that paint trans people as bathroom predators.

In Anchorage, Alaska, an anti-trans ballot measure that garnered national attention failed earlier this year. That referendum sought to segregate bathrooms according to gender listed on original birth certificates, effectively writing most transgender people out of public life.

But in Anchorage, anti-trans activists garnered support, in part, because they consistently refused to talk about transgender people, instead painting the issue as one of “women’s privacy,” and insisting the measure would keep men out of women’s intimate spaces. For that reason, the campaign fighting the Anchorage measure reported they needed to raise seven times the funds as their opposition to succeed.

Both sides on the Massachusetts measure view it as a litmus test for the country during a time when transgender rights are rights are under attack and violence against the community is on the rise.

“Over the past several years since marriage equality has become the law of the land, conservative groups have introduced over 100 pieces of legislation in state legislatures all over the country, targeting and attempting to scapegoat trans folks, a population already so incredibly marginalized and struggling for survival and dignity,” Cox says.

Image via Getty

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