Transgender rights are being targeted nationwide with ballot measures & bathroom bills

transgender rights

Transgender rights sign at the Women's March on Washington. Ted Eytan on Flickr

While the Trump administration chips away at transgender rights on the federal level, states are going after them with multiple ballot initiatives nationwide.

Anchorage, Alaska

In Anchorage, Alaska, voters will decide, via mail-in ballot, if transgender people should be blocked from using the facilities matching their gender identity.

Proposition 1 would amend the Anchorage Municipal Code “to protect the privacy of citizens by requiring that certain intimate facilities such as locker rooms, showers, changing rooms, and restrooms within Municipal buildings be designated for and used only by persons of the same sex; and provide that private employers, public accommodations, and other persons may lawfully choose to designate intimate facilities for use only by persons of the same sex.”

It would repeal portions of the city’s 2015 nondiscrimination ordinance that offers protections to the transgender community.

“Anchorage’s Proposition 1 would repeal basic protections for our transgender friends and neighbors, and won’t make anyone safer,” said Kati Ward, campaign manager of Fair Anchorage. “All of us value safety and privacy, but Proposition 1 is an invitation for harassment and that’s not how we treat people in our city. Voters should vote no on Proposition 1 to keep the law as it is and keep discrimination out of Anchorage.”

Massachusetts

Massachusetts will have its first ever statewide ballot initiative on trans rights, to appear on the November 2018 ballot. It too would dismantle transgender protections, part of a nondiscrimination law passed in 2016. It prohibits discrimination in public places, in accommodations, on the basis of gender identity.

“Massachusetts’ transgender nondiscrimination law has been in effect for nearly two years, and it’s vocally supported by every civic and institutional leader across the Commonwealth, from law enforcement to faith leaders,” said Kasey Suffredini, campaign co-chair of Freedom for All Massachusetts.

“That’s because in Massachusetts we know that families are healthier and communities are stronger when everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Transgender people are our friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow worshippers, and when voters are asked whether to continue to treat them with dignity and respect they will vote yes. Yet with the stakes so high, this campaign is working every day until November 6 to ensure our laws stay intact and discrimination stays out of Massachusetts.”

Montana

Montana could soon join the list, as signatures are being collected in the state to, also being called the “Montana Locker Room Privacy Act.”

It would require “all state and local government entities, including schools and universities, to designate ‘protected facilities’ in government buildings – such as locker rooms, changing rooms, restrooms, and shower rooms – for use by members of only one sex. It defines ‘sex’ as ‘a person’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.'”

“The government may provide an accommodation, such as single occupancy facilities, for special circumstances upon request,” it continues. “The measure requires the government to ‘ensure that each protected facility provides privacy from persons of the opposite sex.’ It authorizes people to sue governmental entities and recover monetary damages for violations.”

It is nearly identical to a bill that failed to pass last year in the state.

If supporters can get approximately 26,000 signatures by July, they will be successful in their efforts to get the measure onto the November 2018 ballot. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Montana has lodged a legal challenge, calling the initiative unconstitutional.

“Transgender people are part of our workplaces and our neighborhoods, and they need to be able to access public spaces just like everyone,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, which recently released a list of the numerous ways the administration went after LGBTQ rights in in the first year of Trump’s presidency. “The anti-transgender ballot initiatives showing up across the country are rooted in the insidious goal of blocking the rights of transgender people to exist in public space and they must be exposed and defeated.”

Bathroom bills in other states 

Iowa and Kentucky are currently considering bills that would go after transgender bathroom rights. Tennessee also has two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, that would target trans bathrooms access.

Unlike those states discussed above, these are not ballot initiatives, meaning they would not be subject to a vote by the public.

South Dakota, on the other hand, recently defeated an anti-trans bathroom bill.

North Carolina repealed House Bill 2, which included an anti-trans bathroom portion, but replaced it with House Bill 142, which keeps the situation at a virtual standstill. Cities and municipalities are still prevented from passing nondiscrimination ordinances, or updating bathroom policies to be more transgender friendly, without the approval of the Republican controlled General Assembly until 2020.

The “Architect of HB2,” Sen. Dan Bishop, is getting a primary challenger supports a full repeal of the anti-LGBTQ legislation and has a gay son.

Trump administration attacks on trans rights

The Trump administration has also gone after transgender rights on a number of fronts since taking control of the White House.

The administration continues its efforts to keep trans people out of the military, give employers a pass for employment discrimination, allow healthcare workers to refuse to provide care, and is officially refusing to hear transgender students’ discrimination complaints.

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