I-1515: The Immoral, Misguided and Tax-Wasting Crusade Against our Transgender Neighbors in Washington

Our campaign proudly stands with our brothers and sisters in the transgender community and we consider I-1515 a monumental setback to our state’s stellar record of inclusion. One reason I’m incredibly proud to call myself a Washingtonian is how our state has been ahead of the curve when it comes to progress. I-1515, unfortunately, is not progress; it regresses our state’s anti-discriminatory laws back at least ten years and is nothing more than a political tool for right-wing candidates to divide our community and pander to a shrinking base of constituents. If this initiative is approved for our November ballot, we strongly encourage every voter to vote NO on I-1515.

Let’s now dig into the facts to see how much of a waste of time and taxpayer money I-1515 would be for our state and why it is massively irresponsible for my opponent, Republican candidate Jesse Young, to champion this initiative as part of his re-election campaign.

FACT: There are zero confirmed cases of a bathroom attack by a transgender person, however the national attention on “bathroom bills” has led anti-transgender activists to harass women in public bathrooms

As reported by Mic.com, “Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union told Mic that no statistical evidence of violence exists to warrant this legislation.” Whether you ask the Las Vegas Police Department, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, or statewide human rights commissions and groups, there are “no problems”, “not even remotely” with transgender people using public bathrooms.

Meanwhile, anti-transgender activists are leveraging the movement to harass women in restrooms in a misguided attempt to raise awareness of the supposed danger women would face if we don’t legislate discrimination into our state laws.

Putting two and two together: before this bathroom bill debate, no reported bathroom incidents; after politicians like Jesse Young introduced this debate to our state, women have had to deal with men undressing in their bathrooms as part of anti-transgender protests. Any reasonable person can conclude that I-1515 is creating a problem, not solving one.

FACT: Most Americans and exactly half of Republicans OPPOSE bills and initiatives like I-1515

A CNN/ORC poll conducted less than two weeks ago showed that 57% of Americans don’t agree with bills or initiatives like I-1515. When you break the percentages down by political party preference, Republicans are evenly divided: 48% for, 48% against, and 4% undecided.

I hate to give my opponent research material like this, but the data is clear: he’s alienating half of his constituents by championing I-1515 in Washington State. Even worse (for Jesse and other establishment Republicans), the longer this issue is debated nationally, more Republicans join the fight for transgender equality.

FACT: Measures like I-1515 are historically used to divide us as voters so we don’t pay attention to issues that truly affect our daily lives

Throughout the decades, the “assaults in a bathroom” narrative has been used repeatedly as a reason to deny equality under the law. It was an argument used against homosexuals and it was even an argument used to derail an amendment to the US Constitution that would explicitly guarantee equality to women. It was a beautifully simple amendment:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Unfortunately, fear-mongering activists opposed to equality for women won the battle, primarily by scaring Americans into believing that this amendment would require all bathrooms to be unisex and women would now be vulnerable to rapists and predators.

Sounds familiar, right? I’m pretty sure women, whose earning potential is almost as stagnant now as it was in the 1970s when this amendment was originally proposed, would like another chance to consider if separate bathrooms are truly more important than guaranteed equality under the US Constitution.

FACT: Transgender people are facing an absurd amount of harassment and violence in public bathrooms

In truth, I-1515 has it backwards. The people that are actually being threatened or treated with discrimination, harassment, and even violence in the restrooms are transgender men and women. Studies show that the majority of transgender people (70%) have faced issues in public restrooms. While the majority of it is verbal harassment, for “9 percent of respondents, actual physical assault has also occurred, including being forcibly removed from the restroom, hit or kicked, intimidated or cornered, or slapped; one respondent reported being sexually assaulted.”

If not even 0.000001% of American women are actually being threatened in the bathrooms by transgender women yet 9.0% of transgender Americans are being physically assaulted, it sounds like to me I-1515 has its priorities completely backwards. Our legislators should be focused on how to reduce violence, not instigate it with unnecessary and discriminatory proposals.

FACT: Passage of I-1515 would open up our state, and taxpayer money, to an endless assault of legal challenges that we would lose in the courts and drive away businesses from operating in Washington

We don’t need to look much further than North Carolina to see how disastrous transphobic legislation has been for their state. Dallas Morning News wrote:

“In North Carolina, the response was unambiguous. In March, lawmakers overturned an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte and adopted bathroom restrictions for public buildings statewide. PayPal and Deutsche Bank promptly yanked plans for new jobs and facilities. Bruce Springsteen, Cirque de Soleil and others canceled performances. The NBA warned about moving the all-star game. Film companies said they’d shoot elsewhere.

North Carolina has lost an estimated $87 million so far, according to media reports. Last week, in a letter to North Carolina’s governor, a local commission said the law was having a ‘disastrous impact’ on Greensboro and its public venues.”

Nearly every single business or corporation you can think of supports our brothers and sisters in the transgender community. Facebook, Coca-Cola, Disney, Apple, Microsoft, Target, Ford, Google, on and on. These companies all have operations in our state and have zero issues allowing their transgender employees to use the bathroom of their choice. If we let Washington become the next North Carolina, how many of them will begin to ship jobs out of our state?

Even further, by introducing discriminatory practices to our state’s laws, we risk losing out on $1 billion of federal funding for education. This would be downright disastrous to our efforts to amply fund our education. Our current and former state legislators, including my opponents Jesse Young and Larry Seaquist, have failed to adequately fund education the past few legislative sessions, resulting in our state to be fined $100,000 a day. Our children simply cannot shoulder another blow like this to our budget and I-1515 would be the death knell for any solution to our education funding gap.

FACT: Diversity makes us stronger as a community, state, and nation

Time and time again, research shows socially diverse groups are more innovative than homogenous groups. Diversity breeds more creativity, encourages us to think more critically, which in turns leads to a boon of innovation and discovery. With a gridlocked legislature refusing to listen and budge on the most pressing issues to the people of Washington, I don’t think it’s time for us to abandon progress in an effort to conserve the status quo. I-1515 will make us less diverse and lead to a less effective, less profitable and less innovative Washington economy at a time when we desperately need an economy that works for all us.

Our campaign is fighting for a Washington that represents the best in all of us. We’ll proudly stand with and fight for fairness and equality for any disadvantaged group, including our transgender brothers and sisters. Our campaign is listening when you tell us that discrimination is tearing apart your community. We’re equally devastated to learn that discriminatory legislation like I-1515 has fostered renewed alienation, physical abuse, and worst of all, attempts at suicide for transgender youth. We agree that so-called “conversion therapies” are immoral and unethical and have zero medical credibility. Our campaign agrees that our state is not doing enough to provide counseling, healthcare, and housing for at-risk and abandoned transgender youth. If I am elected, I will be a willing and proud advocate for you on the House floor. I promise that our campaign will fight like hell between now and the primary on August 2, and then onward until the general election on November 8, to unseat Jesse Young here in Legislative District 26 and restore a voice in Olympia that says proudly to every transgender Washingtonian “we are here for you!”

Photo credit: WashingtonWontDiscriminate.org

Our campaign is your campaign, your fight is our campaign’s fight. Join us and terrific advocacy groups like Washington Won’t Discriminate and vote NO on I-1515. Just as importantly, vote for and support candidates like myself as we stand up to the establishment, right-wing forces and their wealthy campaign contributors. Our campaign does not accept contributions from corporations and we don’t coordinate with SuperPACs. We need the support and contributions of everyday Washingtonians to fuel us towards victory. If we stand together, we can have a Washington that works for all us.

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