Anti-Trans Petition Fails to Make November Ballot in Washington State

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Anti-Trans Petition Fails to Make November Ballot in Washington State

Nicole Knight

"Washingtonians stood up against discrimination and secured this significant victory—for our state and our nation—ensuring that transgender people and their families will continue to be protected equally under the law," Kris Hermanns, CEO of The Pride Foundation, an LGBTQ advocacy group, wrote on Friday.

LGBTQ rights advocates in Washington state were cheering the news Friday that a discriminatory proposed bathroom measure requiring individuals to use facilities corresponding to their assigned gender at birth failed to qualify for the statewide ballot.

“Washingtonians stood up against discrimination and secured this significant victory—for our state and our nation—ensuring that transgender people and their families will continue to be protected equally under the law,” Kris Hermanns, CEO of the Pride Foundation, an LGBTQ advocacy group, wrote on Friday, after hearing the news.

The measure’s backer, a group called Just Want Privacy, announced Thursday night the petition hadn’t gathered the required 246,000 signatures to go before voters in November.

Just Want Privacy launched the petition, known as I-1515, shortly after the state Human Rights Commission, in a December rule, affirmed a 2006 state law protecting the right of individuals to use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their gender identity, among other provisions. The rule applied to private and public facilities, and included stores, schools, restaurants, and most places of employment.

Major corporations like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Airbnb had opposed I-1515, as the Seattle Times reported.

Organizers with Just Want Privacy said they’d intended to deliver the signatures to the Washington state Secretary of State’s office Friday morning. They said in an online announcement that they will “not give up the fight.”

In a filing with the Washington Secretary of State, the petitioners argued that the state’s transgender protections would cause “potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury” to those sharing a bathroom or locker room with a transgender individual. They contended that the law and recent rule “interferes with a student’s right to privacy and a parent’s right to determine when their children are exposed to sensitive issues and subjects.”

Proponents of discriminatory measures targeting transgender individuals often cite such a “need for safety,” but evidence doesn’t bear that out.

“Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day,” a statement from a coalition policy and advocacy group recently noted. “None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws.”

As a June article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted, “It is transgender people who have generally been the victims of verbal harassment and physical assaults when trying to use public bathrooms.”

Discriminatory bathroom bills forcing individuals to use facilities that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate have been challenged multiple times in court. This includes North Carolina’s recent HB 2, which the U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the North Carolina measure “state-sponsored discrimination.”