In the spring of 2018, Field First was hired as a consultant by Freedom for All Massachusetts (FFAM) to support their campaign to uphold transgender rights in Massachusetts. In June 2018, Field First was promoted to campaign manager to win Yes on 3 and work with the campaign steering committee and staff to coordinate the fundraising, field, communications, operations, and coalition-building arms to lead the campaign to success.
In 2016, a group of anti-LGBTQ activists collected enough signatures to put the Massachusetts law protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places on the 2018 statewide ballot as a referendum. Freedom for All Massachusetts needed to win a “Yes” vote on Question 3 in November in order to uphold these protections – this was the first time transgender rights were on a state ballot in the U.S., and the entire country was watching Massachusetts.
While the “No” side was a fringe minority in MA, they had succeeded in similar efforts in other cities and municipalities across the country by exploiting vile, fear-mongering stereotypes that relied heavily on a voter’s lack of personal experience with transgender people. The No side was supported by national resources and looked to expand their attacks on transgender rights in Massachusetts, and to catalyze the next, nationwide wave of the anti-LGBTQ ballot measures.
The Yes on 3 campaign knew from anti-LGBTQ campaigns in other states and cities that public opinion could turn very quickly, and that the public was especially susceptible to these fear-mongering messages. While the public generally was supportive of trans rights, many became concerned about allowing access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity when presented with the anti-LGBTQ activists’ messages.
After looking at polling and examining the tactics used in other campaigns across the country, the campaign knew that in order to win it would have to run a robust, statewide public education campaign to inoculate voters against the opponent’s fear-mongering messaging and mobilize support.
To combat the powerful rhetoric of the ‘No’ side, Yes on 3 would need to run a multi-pronged campaign including:
- A field campaign to move the campaign’s message person-to-person through persuasive door-knocking, phone calls, email, and mobilization text messages – a message that emphasized that trans people are human, are our neighbors, friends, and family members, as told by trans people
- An earned media campaign to move the campaign’s message at the municipal, state, and national level
- A political operation to garner support from elected officials, companies, unions and organizations and mobilize them to take action
- A paid media operation to move the campaign’s message digitally, on radio, direct mail, and television