On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a ceremonial signing for H.3810, “An Act Relative To Gender Identity,” which now legally protects transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, education, employment and credit. The new law also provides additional civil rights and protections from hate crimes. “No individual should face discrimination because of who they are,” Governor Patrick said in a press release. “This legislation gives Massachusetts the necessary tools to stop hate crimes against transgender people and to treat others fairly. I am proud to sign it.” The transgender equal rights law will make Massachusetts the 16th state to treat transgender citizens as a protected class. The law modifies language in Massachusetts statute to protect all individuals from discrimination, regardless of gender identities. This change will create equal protections for transgender individuals seeking employment, housing, credit and education. There are approximately 33,000 transgender residents living in Massachusetts. “The passage of this bill is going to make an immediate difference in the lives of the state’s transgender residents, who desperately need anti-discrimination protections in housing and employment. I have been so moved by the courage of constituents who’ve shared their stories with lawmakers and shown the critical need for these civil rights protections,” Massachusetts Representative Carl Sciortino said in a statement. The bill was signed in to law late last year but Governor Patrick held the ceremonial signing at the state house this morning. In 2004, Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world (after the Netherlands, Belgium, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec) to legalize same-sex marriage. It was the first U.S. state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.