A June poll showed Massachusetts voters want to keep the transgender anti-discrimination law in place — but just by a small margin. So both sides are working furiously to educate voters, knowing the ballot question could go either way in November.
"We're talking about who we as transgender people are and our humanity, our dignity and the very basic rights that we deserve," said Mason Dunn of Freedom for All Massachusetts, the group campaigning to vote yes on question 3.
Voters will have the chance to repeal the law on the ballot in November — an effort being run by Keep MA Safe, advocating to vote no on 3.
"This isn't about discrimination, and it's not about non-discrimination. It's about safety and privacy in women's spaces," said Keep MA Safe Communications Director Yvette Ollada.
Keep MA Safe says it initiated the ballot campaign to repeal what it calls the overly broad "bathroom and shower law," which they say allows people to self-identify as any gender in order to use whatever bathroom they choose, including convicted sex offenders.
"When it's that broad of a definition, it's ripe for abuse," said Ollada.
"The idea that somebody might frivolously claim to be transgender is simply inaccurate," argued Dunn.
That group says since the law passed, there has been no increase in public safety concerns. It has raised more than $2 million — about 10 times more than Keep MA Safe.
"A lot of that is corporate, big dollars," said Ollada. "And also money coming in from outside of Massachusetts."
But Freedom for All Massachusetts says that's all part of the "No on 3" strategy.
"Typically, what anti-transgender activists do is wait until the very last minute and typically get an out of state donation," Dunn said.
Freedom for All Massachusetts expects Keep MA Safe to use those last-minute donations to flood the TV airwaves with ads in the week before the election. Both sides say their positions are grossly mischaracterized by their opponents.