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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 03
Statement from Washington SAFE Alliance on newly proposed anti-transgender Washington state legislation
Section One
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Statement from Washington SAFE Alliance on newly proposed anti-transgender Washington state legislation

Our community has a long history of fighting together shoulder to shoulder and in solidarity. From the first days of our modern movement for gender and sexuality justice, transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay people have worked together to fight back against attacks, and educate the public on our lives. As you have probably heard, yet again we are under attack - and we must stand united in these attempts to divide us.

Rep. Graham Hunt along with colleagues in both the House and Senate have introduced a new slew of anti-LGBT bills, this time singling out transgender people. These bills are fueled by ignorance and fear that transgender people's presence in bathrooms is somehow 'a threat' or 'will open the door to predators' - as a community we have heard these slippery slope arguments before. Two decades ago, at the height of the anti-AIDS panic, Sen. Cal Anderson talked about how colleagues would refuse to sit next to him, and his friends talked about how people would pick up pens he had used 'with napkins, because they thought just casual contact would transmit HIV.' Today, we know that fear and ignorance have significant and lasting impacts on our community, especially people who were struggling to survive and thrive.

For nearly 30 years, the LGBT community fought to pass fundamental civil rights for all LGBT Washingtonians, resulting in the passage of the Anderson-Murray anti-discrimination law in 2006. The law includes protections for transgender people along with everyone else in our community, one of the first such inclusive bills in our country. Since then, transgender people have had a decade of protections that have allowed us to use bathrooms consistent with the gender we live as and know ourselves to be. The safety concerns that have manifested have been that 53% of transgender people report being harassed, discriminated against, or attacked in places of public accommodations - places like restaurants, hospitals, doctors offices, on busses, or yes - in bathrooms and locker rooms.

These protections covers nearly all aspects of our public life: from looking for a job, applying for an apartment or home loan, in health insurance coverage, to getting bank accounts. The laws that Rep. Hunt and his colleagues are attacking would poke holes in our fundamental rights and undermine the unequivocal message of the Washington Law Against Discrimination - discrimination is wrong. Period.

We must stand united and fight these bills with a unified voice. Transgender people have been at the forefront of many of our shared struggles over the decades - we have also been some of the biggest and easiest targets for attacks. In state after state - including 'liberal' states like Massachusetts and New York - and in the passage of ENDA - we have seen 'Bathroom Panic' bills used as a tool to divide us as a community.

Here in Washington we will stand united to say no longer will we let opponents of equality target some of our communities most vulnerable.

As transgender leaders from across the state, we ask that you join with us as we educate Washingtonians about the very real harm these bills will have - not only on transgender people - but all of us who rely on the Washington Law Against Discrimination to ensure fairness for everyone.

Please join us in our coalition - the Washington SAFE Alliance - to combat these anti-trans bills, and educate Washingtonians once more about the need for our hard fought fundamental civil rights protections.

Danni Askini
Executive Director
Gender Justice League

Seth Kirby
Executive Director
Oasis Youth Center

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