Discrimination is on the ballot in Massachusetts and Anchorage, Alaska, with signatures currently being collected for a third anti-transgender ballot measure in Montana
GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, released the following statement along with Fair Anchorage and Freedom for All Massachusetts calling attention to the alarming ballot measures targeting transgender rights across the United States.
“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. “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.”
Most urgently, voters will consider Proposition 1 in the city of Anchorage, Alaska, which would repeal portions of the city’s 2015 nondiscrimination ordinance that protects transgender people from discrimination and would require everyone in Anchorage to use the public restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex assigned to them at birth. The vote is taking place via mail-in ballots being sent out on March 12th and due by April 3rd. “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.”
The state of Massachusetts will face the first ever statewide ballot initiative on transgender rights, which will appear on the November 2018 ballot. The anti-transgender ballot initiative seeks to roll back nondiscrimination protections, signed into law in July 2016, which extended public accommodations protections to the Commonwealth’s transgender residents.
“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.”
There is also a looming ballot measure in Montana, where signatures are currently being collected to place Initiative 183 on the ballot. This ballot measure specifically targets transgender Montanans by requiring people to use the restroom that aligns with the gender on their original birth certificate and forcing people to comply with anyone demanding to see paperwork before granting them access facilities in public spaces, including schools. The Montana legislature debated a nearly identical bill during its 2017 legislative session, which failed to pass committee. Fewer than 26,000 signatures are needed by July to get the measure onto the November 2018 ballot and the ACLU of Montana is currently challenging the initiative as unconstitutional.
Anti-transgender advocates behind the push for all three of these ballot initiatives are promoting fearmongering and derogatory myths about the transgender community to advance their agenda. This includes focusing on restrooms despite the sweeping ramifications of revoking public accommodation protections, and falsely claiming that protecting the transgender community would make it legal for criminals to enter women’s restrooms. Reporters covering these ballot initiatives must avoid reducing the complexity of these measures to “bathroom bills,” include the voices of transgender people, and reject inaccurate and ugly stereotypes used to defame or malign transgender women.
For more information, see GLAAD’s “Debunking the ‘Bathroom Bill’ Myth” guidebook as well as the MythBuster page on the Freedom for All Massachusetts website.