The League of Women Voters of Washington (LWVWA) issued a strong statement against I-1552 today, recommending that voters decline to sign initiative petitions in support of it.
The LWVWA rarely lends its voice in support of or against initiatives before they make it onto the ballot, but were driven to come out publicly against I-1552 now because of the serious threat it poses to transgender Washingtonians’ safety, even at this early stage.
Kathy Sakahara, Vice President of Advocacy for the League of Women Voters of WA, specifically said the LWVWA was concerned that the hateful rhetoric being pushed by proponents of the bill could lead to an increase in violence and hate crimes against LGBT people.
“Regardless of whether it’s approved by voters, the anti-transgender fear mongering accompanying such a campaign … can lead to real harm, especially to transgender and gender non-conforming young people who already face higher rates of bullying, harassment and violence.”
Indeed, hate crimes are a growing problem, and hateful rhetoric from opponents of equality in Washington and around the country is a contributing factor.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes have risen by 20% nationally over the last year. And transgender people—especially children—have for years been the group most vulnerable to these types of attacks. A chilling example is the case of a transgender Vancouver girl, who was harassed and bullied “almost daily since the beginning of the last school year” before being physically assaulted by another student.
Safety is a talking point frequently used by I-1552’s backers, but experts, including the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, say the measure would not increase anyone’s safety. Claims that it would are nothing more than scare tactics.
Ann Murphy, President of the LWVWA, reiterated this national consensus.
“LWVWA opposes this kind of misleading information and false rhetoric that encourages more fear and misunderstanding, which can lead to more harassment and violence. We want voters to know that I-1552 would do nothing to protect women and children, as its backers claim. Existing laws already prohibit predatory behavior. I-1552 is really a misguided attempt to single out our transgender community members for discrimination. It has no place in civic discourse.”
Washington Won’t Discriminate is proud to have the LWVWA endorse our Decline to Sign I-1552 effort. If you’re a Washington voter and you’d like to join our campaign to keep discrimination out of Washington, click here to add your name to our Decline to Sign I-1552 campaign too.