House debates transgender bill after Baker pledges to sign

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts House is considering a transgender rights bill that Democratic leaders expect to pass, and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has promised to sign if it reaches his desk.

Debate began shortly before noon Wednesday with Rep. John Fernandes, a Milford Democrat who presided over hearings on the bill, urging colleagues to put aside fear and emotion, consider the facts and vote for the measure.

The bill would expand existing protections for transgender people to public accommodations, including restaurants and malls, and allow people to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The House proposal includes language that seeks to prohibit “improper” claims of gender identity. Critics of the bill have suggested that sexual predators could make false claims to gain access to private areas for women.

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