WASHINGTON STATE: The League of Women Voters of WA (LWVWA) is recommending that voters do NOT sign I-1552, an initiative that will rollback non-discrimination protections for transgender Washingtonians. The League of Women Voters of Washington seldom recommends that voters decline to sign an initiative petition.
“We usually wait until initiatives make it to the ballot before making a recommendation,” says Kathy Sakahara, Vice President/Advocacy of the League of Women Voters of WA. “But initiatives and bills like I-1552 that target vulnerable individuals increase dangerous, hateful rhetoric which can lead to hate crimes and violence against LGBTQ people. Regardless of whether it’s approved by voters, the anti-transgender fear mongering accompanying such a campaign, I-1552 can lead to real harm, especially to transgender and gender non-conforming young people who already face higher rates of bullying, harassment and violence.”
LWVWA strongly supports the initiative process as a way for citizens to exercise power and improve governmental policies, but does not believe that we should be voting on individual rights.
As anti-transgender “bathroom bills” increasingly focus attacks on the rights of transgender people, violence directed at the trans community — for years, one of the most victimized groups in the country — appears to be reaching new heights, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last week a 7th grade transgender student in Vancouver, WA reported being harassed and bullied “almost daily since the beginning of the last school year” before being physically assaulted by another student.
“LWVWA opposes this kind of misleading information and false rhetoric that encourages more fear and misunderstanding, which can lead to more harassment and violence,” explains Ann Murphy, President, League of Women Voters. “We want voters to know that I-1552 would do nothing to protect woman 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.”
The League of Women Voters of Washington, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.