by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
I-1515, the anti-Trans ballot measure, has yet to qualify for the November ballot, but Seth Kirby is not going to sit around and wait till the June 8 qualifying deadline.
Kirby, chair of Washington Won't Discriminate, the group formed to fight I-1515, is ready to jump into a statewide campaign, even if the measure doesn't make it to the ballot.
'Regardless of whether [I-1515] qualifies, we need to work for the future,' he told SGN, 'and start to educate people about who Trans people are and who our families are.
'There are all kinds of Trans people, and we're part of all communities around the state. That opens up opportunities for conversations.'
One of the challenges, Kirby says, is that many people don't know any Transgender individuals, or don't realize that someone they know is Trans.
'Three out of four people know someone who is Gay or Lesbian,' Kirby says, citing a recent poll, 'but only one out of nine knows someone who is Trans, so we need to help people understand who Trans people are.'
On the upside, Washington has had legal protections for LGBT residents for many years. They enjoy broad popular support, and the state's employers also have implemented nondiscrimination policies.
'Here in Washington we've had a nondiscrimination law for 10 years,' Kirby noted. 'Seattle and Tacoma have had protections for much longer, and these protections have proven quite successful. We also have support from businesses like Microsoft and Amazon who want our state to be open and welcoming.'
Transgender people are also getting more positive attention from the media, although this may be a mixed blessing, Kirby warns.
'Yes, we're seen more in the media,' he told SGN, 'and that's an opportunity. It leads people to ask questions. The downside is that people may draw quick conclusions from what they see, and it doesn't really reflect the reality of Trans people.'
Washington's LGBT community has experience with statewide campaigns, the most recent being R-74 for marriage equality in 2012, but Kirby doubts that Washington Won't Discriminate can simply duplicate past campaigns.
'[I-1515] may be very different from R-74,' Kirby said. 'I don't think we can say people who were supportive of marriage will automatically come out on the right side of this. They may say, 'Well, this doesn't impact us.'
'For this issue it's a question of how we'd want someone in our lives to be treated if they were transitioning, or going to transition. My guess is, we'd want them to be treated well, to be supported and respected.'
For this effort, Washington Won't Discriminate will adopt a three-prong strategy, Kirby says - engaging the base, raising funds, and recruiting allies.
For the base, the LGBT community and allies who already support their LGBT friends and family, Kirby urges them to 'sign on to endorse Washington Won't Discriminate. You can do that on the website and there will be volunteers at Pride.'
Individuals who want to help can also give money through the Washington Won't Discriminate website, or set up a presentation on Trans issues for their organization, church, or business.
Washington Won't Discriminate will also do outreach to key groups like organized labor and faith communities, Kirby says. The SAFE Alliance, which was originally founded in January to counter anti-Trans legislation, will take on a public education role.
'We'll be working with the Faith Alliance chapters in hub cities - Spokane, Olympia, the TriCities,' Kirby told SGN.
'Gender Justice League [whose executive director, Danni Askini, recently dropped out of her 43rd District legislative race to devote her time exclusively to the I-1515 campaign] will focus on the SAFE Alliance side.
'We're not just asking people for money. There's something all of us can do to help.'
Washington Won't Discriminate can be reached at http://www.washingtonwontdiscriminate.org/.
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