Cape Air is one of the most recent companies in the Commonwealth to support legislation that would prohibit discrimination against transgender people. According to a release from Freedom Massachusetts, the Hyannis-based airline joins several other companies including Eastern Bank, Planet Fitness, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and John Hancock Financial in backing SB.735 and HB.1577.
"In 1996, Cape Air became the first airline in the nation to offer same sex health benefits," said Linda Markham, President and CAO of Cape Air. "It is in this spirit of fundamental fairness that Cape Air supports the transgender accommodation bills before the Massachusetts state legislature."
An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination would add the words "gender identity" to the existing legislation which currently prohibits discrimination based on "age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status".
SB.735 is sponsored by State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston). HB.1577 is sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Byron Rushing (D-Boston) and State Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville).
Earlier this month Attorney General Maura Healey and Congressman Joe Kennedy testified in support of the legislation at the State House in Boston. In June, AG Healey's Office announced a policy to protect transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who work for, volunteer at or interact with her office.
There is currently no explicit prohibition on discrimination against transgender people in public places in Massachusetts, according to Freedom Massachusetts. This includes stores and restaurants, hotels, parks and public transportation. Sixty-five percent of transgender people residing in the Commonwealth said they had experienced discrimination in a public place, according to a 2014 survey.