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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 9, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 50
Anti-Transgender legislation pre-filed in the Washington legislature
Section One
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Anti-Transgender legislation pre-filed in the Washington legislature

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The rights of Transgender Washingtonians are under attack yet again. On Thursday, Washington Won't Discriminate, a coalition that supports Transgender rights and freedoms in Washington State, posted a message to its website that states, 'Anti-transgender forces are mounting another attempt to repeal our state's long-standing transgender nondiscrimination laws, despite their failure earlier this year to get a similar repeal on Washington's general election ballot.'

'This new attack on Transgender Washingtonians is House Bill 1011. If passed, it would write discrimination into state law by allowing Transgender people to be prohibited from using the restroom consistent with who they are.'

According to Washington Won't Discriminate, the state's current laws have protected Transgender men and women - 'people who are part of our families, workplaces, and communities' - from unfair discrimination for the last 10 years.'

HB 1011 would repeal those protections, leaving Transgender Washingtonians vulnerable to public harassment and opening schools, state and local governments, and businesses to costly nondiscrimination lawsuits, the coalition alleges.

'If this sounds like a familiar strategy from foes of transgender rights, that's because it is. Washington lawmakers actually considered two similar bills in 2016: House Bill 2589 and Senate Bill 6548. HB 2589 was introduced into the Judiciary Committee but never went further. Lawmakers actually passed SB 6548 through the Senate Committee on Law & Justice, though it eventually died in the Rules Committee. HB 1011 is expected to move through the legislature much like SB 6548 did.'

Perhaps most disturbing, says Washington Won't Discriminate, is how much HB 1011 looks like North Carolina's House Bill 2, which actually bans Transgender people from using gender-appropriate public restrooms and undermines the ability of local municipalities to set their own policies.

HB 2 is considered the most extreme anti-LGBT law in the nation. PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and CoStar canceled planned expansions into North Carolina, and the NBA, NCAA, and ACC pulled high-profile sporting events from the state, costing it nearly a billion dollars in economic investment.

'We absolutely cannot afford for this kind of negative attention and these economic costs to descend on Washington,' said the coalition. 'What's more, transgender discrimination simply doesn't reflect our values. Our state was one of the first to enact marriage equality via popular referendum, and we were one of the first states to ensure civil rights protections for all LGBT people. Our reputation as an inclusive, welcoming state is still strong - but that reputation could take a major blow if opponents of transgender equality make headway next year.

'The pre-filing of this bill makes it clear that anti-transgender forces will be back in 2017, and that they are more determined than ever to erase our state's long-standing transgender nondiscrimination laws.'

For more information go to www.WashingtonWontDiscriminate.org.

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