Friday, July 7, 2017

Anti-transgender bathroom bill won't go on the ballot

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 4:10 PM

Caleb Walsh Illustration

An initiative sold as a privacy and safety measure that would have taken away the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender won't go on the ballot this fall after backers failed to turn in the required number of signatures.

The group expected to bring in signatures for Initiative 1552, which would require people to use the bathroom that matches their sex at birth, cancelled their appointment with the Washington Secretary of State's office Friday, the last chance to turn in the required number for verification.

The initiative was touted by supporters as a safety measure to reverse December 2015 guidance from the state Human Rights Commission, which clarified that state protections guaranteed access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and facilities according to someone's gender identity, including for students.

I-1552 supporters, including the Just Want Privacy campaign, hedged the campaign on concerns that the rule could open the door for sexual predators to hide in women's or girls' bathrooms under false pretenses and prey on others.

Critics, meanwhile, pointed out that it is already illegal for someone to stalk, assault, or otherwise prey on someone else, and that many transgender people face discrimination for simply trying to go to the restroom. According to a Washington, D.C., survey of 93 transgender and gender-nonconforming people, about 70 percent said they had either been denied access to bathrooms, been harassed while using a bathroom, or been physically assaulted in a restroom.

“We all care about safety and privacy, but people understand that repealing protections from discrimination for transgender people won’t make anyone safer,” says Seth Kirby, a transgender man and chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, the No on I-1552 campaign, in a news release. “It’s already a felony to assault or harass someone in public facilities, and no one should have to prove their gender to self-appointed bathroom cops.”

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...