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“When something as basic as your gender is out of sync, it is all you can think about.”
May 12, 2017

I grew up on the East Coast and it was a disjointing experience when my wife and I moved to a rural area in Walla Walla. With the loss of my old patterns came new joy. One of those was a re-connection with nature.

I now love to go on trips throughout national parks and one of my favorite places to go is Glacier National Park. There, that you can truly see the contrast created by the east and west side of the continent pushing together. On the west there are rocks that are smooth and rounded, a beautiful collage of colors like green, burgundy, gray, black, and amber. On the east, the color scheme is the same but the rocks feel different—they have turned brittle and sharp, you can snap them in your hands. But because the plates smashed together they are now within yards of each other—different but overlapping. It’s a metaphor I’ve thought about from time to time.

It reminds me of how we interact in the world—all of us, not just transgender people like me.

Another big change I encountered when I moved to Washington was the fact that state law protects transgender people from discrimination everywhere. It protects us from being fired (or not hired) because of our gender identity; it protects us from being evicted or refused a rental; and it keeps us safe in public places like restaurants.

In some places on the East Coast, that’s not the case. In fact, when Washington passed full civil rights protections for LGBT people in 2006, it was one of the first states to do so. That makes me really proud to call Washington my new home.

“If I-1552 passes next year, the portion of our laws that protect me from discrimination in public places would be gone, and businesses could deny me the ability to use their facilities just because of who I am. The move to the West Coast has been disjointing enough—and repealing these protections would turn my life upside down all over again.”

But now, that could change again. People opposed to our state’s long tradition of equality are trying to repeal these transgender non-discrimination protections, and they’re using the ballot box to do it. If I-1552 passes next year, the portion of our laws that protect me from discrimination in public places would be gone, and businesses could deny me the ability to use their facilities just because of who I am.

The move to the West Coast has been disjointing enough—and repealing these protections would turn my life upside down all over again.

I’ve had to embrace uncertainty throughout my life. I had to relearn what my life looked like when my wife and I moved from a fast-paced city to a rural community in Walla Walla. I had to sit with discomfort in order to find my voice through writing. And I had to battle my self-doubt during my gender transition—opening myself up to the fear that I was somehow doing it wrong without letting my concerns overtake me.

“When something as basic as your gender is out of sync, it is all you can think about. When the face in the mirror doesn’t serve as such a dissonant reminder of what you’re not, the world opens up.”

I look back and realize it was one of the hardest things I will ever go through. When something as basic as your gender is out of sync, it is all you can think about. When the face in the mirror doesn’t serve as such a dissonant reminder of what you’re not, the world opens up.

I am no longer constantly reminded about how different I am and it has given me new found freedom. I can focus on other pursuits. From working on my second science fiction novel to teaching myself Lebanese recipes I never got a chance to learn from my own family. Most importantly, I get to fully focus on the growth of my own young children—seeing them build elaborate pillow fort worlds in our living room, exploring with a curiosity that can’t be satiated.

The freedom that has come with transitioning wouldn’t be complete without the protections offered by Washington’s transgender non-discrimination laws. The world is open now—but these non-discrimination protections allow me to move freely and safely through it.

If Washington’s non-discrimination protections are repealed, a piece of the freedom I’ve gained since transitioning would go away.

“I’ve fought hard to know who I am, but I also know that thousands of people helped shape who I am through intense love. It makes me want to give back and help with others’ struggles—whatever that struggle is.”

I’ve fought hard to know who I am, but I also know that thousands of people helped shape who I am through intense love. It makes me want to give back and help with others’ struggles—whatever that struggle is.

While there is no silver bullet to finding yourself, I hope people know: You can be happy but not know all the answers. You can be brave but never feel sure of yourself. You can be strong and embrace people who are different than you, learning more about yourself than you ever would from being isolated with those that are the same as you.

These are lessons that I know many Washingtonians have taken to heart. That’s why transgender non-discrimination has been the law of the land for more than 10 years, and why Washingtonians are fighting so hard to protect it now. Be one of them—click here to sign Washington Won’t Discriminate’s No On I-1552 pledge and join the movement.