On Saturday, more than 2,000 Washingtonians rallied together in Tacoma against discrimination, kicking off a robust statewide “Decline to Sign” effort aimed at defeating I-1552, the proposed initiative that would put the repeal of protections for transgender people on the ballot this November.
The rally followed the Trump Administration’s rollback of guidance protecting transgender students. New guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice say this is an issue best left to the states. And while Washington law has, for the past 11 years, ensured fair and equal treatment for transgender people, I-1552 would strip those much-needed protections away.
Speakers at the rally spanned a diverse cross-section of transgender students and families, educators, faith leaders, elected officials and supportive businesses—and each underscored a central message: Transgender people are our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. And Washingtonians will Decline to Sign petitions that would put this terrible initiative on the ballot.
Our campaign chair Seth Kirby kicked off Saturday’s rally—thanking the crowd for showing up on such short notice and explaining why, as a transgender man, defeating I-1552 is so personal to him:
We were also so proud to stand alongside elected officials from across the state—including State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello and Congressman Derek Kilmer. Each of these lawmakers have been champions for transgender equality and were among the first endorsers of our campaign:
More than 150 faith leaders have endorsed our campaign to defeat I-1552—and their voices were well-represented on Saturday. Bishop Jaech spoke on behalf of the faith coalition with a powerful message to transgender people statewide: You are valued, you are loved—and we will work together to ensure you remain protected under the laws of Washington State:
Educators spoke up too, reiterating their unwavering commitment to ensuring fair and equal treatment of transgender students, both in and out of the classroom. Tacoma School Board President Catherine Ushka explained that one of the most disturbing details of I-1552 is that it forces public school districts across Washington to discriminate against transgender students—and leaves them open to costly lawsuits, as it permits any student to sue their school district if they encounter a transgender peer using a gender-segregated facility. “Transgender students and their families are friends of mine… and that’s why I’ll Decline to Sign,” she told the crowd.
Sylvester Neal made an impassioned plea to the crowd to Decline to Sign. His granddaughter is transgender—and he just can’t stand by as this harmful initiative seeks to rob her of her very livelihood:
Theo Calhoun, a student at UW Tacoma and Marcie Owens, a local high school student wanted to make it clear that despite what our opposition may claim, discrimination is at the core of I-1552:
And one-by-one, transgender Washingtonians and their families shared their stories—and painted a clear picture of exactly who would be harmed by I-1552:
Saturday’s rally was a clear demonstration of the values that unite us in Washington. When our neighbors, family and friends are under attack, Washingtonians will speak out—we will work to ensure fair and equal treatment for everyone who calls our state home.
You can CLICK HERE to see more photos from the rally.
And help us keep the momentum going! If you haven’t already, add your name to our Decline to Sign pledge. Then pitch in $5, or whatever you can, to fuel our campaign to keep discrimination off the ballot in Washington.