ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A new advertisement by opponents of a proposed ordinance to extend anti-discrimination legal protections to gay and transgender people in Anchorage is being called offensive and misleading by stating that day care centers would be forced to hire “transvestites” or face jail time.
The measure, Proposition 5, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, and goes before voters on April 3.
In the opponents’ ad, a cartoon “transvestite” who wants to work at a day care is drawn as a man with a jutting jaw and body hair, wearing a short pink dress, red high heels and lipstick. If Proposition 5 passes, the narrator of the ad says, “it will be illegal for Carol to refuse a job to a transvestite who wants to work with toddlers.”
That imagery is an “offensive, stigmatizing and distorted” representation of a transgender person, said Storrs. Transgender people are twice as likely as the general population to be assaulted, he said, and the imagery in the ad “is definitely fanning the flames of fear that can lead to hate and violence.”
The Anchorage News Tribune reported that Jim Minnery, a leader of the “Protect Your Rights – Vote No On Prop. 5” campaign, which produced the commercial, said the ad points out that because “transgender” isn’t defined in the ordinance, a scenario like the one portrayed in the commercial could play out under the law.
“I think it’s a shocking flaw in Prop. 5 and shows profound disrespect to voters that the authors didn’t feel it was important to provide a definition of transgender identity,” Minnery said.
He defended his group’s free speech rights and said the cartoon caricature was meant to grab attention. “You kind of have to cut to the chase; you have 30 seconds,” he said.
Since the law doesn’t define transgender, why couldn’t it include a cross-dressing man, Minnery asked.
Minnery said that without a clear definition of transgender, someone who considers himself to be a different gender could require a business to accommodate him.
He added that the proposed non-discrimination ordinance threatens religious freedom.