I am a very spoiled old woman. My mornings start with my husband Tom bringing me a fresh cup of coffee in bed and the days often end with us playing scrabble in the evenings. It’s a life filled with little moments of pure peace and joy and I have to remind myself that it wasn’t always this way.
A decade ago, my life looked fantastic on paper but, bubbling under the surface, was turmoil. I was married and working as a project manager for a construction company where I took on everything from managing complex contracts to dealing with office staff, field crews and owners.
The work itself was fun and interesting but I always needed to throw myself in physical activity, training endlessly for marathons and long distance cycling races, to deal with the high pressure of the job and the stress of my “hidden secret”.
There comes a time when you can’t run any longer. It was on a 17-mile bike ride from Port Angeles up to Hurricane Ridge where I finally faced my unseen truth. Even though I had been identified as a man, I knew I was a woman.
Transitioning to my real self wasn’t easy. However, my life opened up in amazing ways—including falling in love with an old friend and now a dear love, Tom. Unfortunately, even though we want to spend our days quietly spoiling each other, the world does not always accept us.
Transitioning wasn’t easy. And some days, being transgender isn’t easy. Transgender people are still more likely to face discrimination and even face violence because of who we are.
“In the rare instance that I do have a bad day, it makes me feel empowered to know that the law is on my side. If I’m discriminated against because I’m transgender, that’s illegal. And not only do these laws protect me, they send a powerful message that transgender people are valued members of society—that we matter, just as much as any other Washingtonian.”
These things do happen, but thankfully, in Washington, they’re against the law. For more than a decade, Washington has had laws on the books that protect transgender people like me from being barred from using public facilities that are consistent with who we are.
In the rare instance that I do have a bad day, it makes me feel empowered to know that the law is on my side. If I’m discriminated against because I’m transgender, that’s illegal. And not only do these laws protect me, they send a powerful message that transgender people are valued members of society—that we matter, just as much as any other Washingtonian.
This is important. Right now, hate crimes in our country are on the rise, and transgender people are disproportionately targeted. Rhetoric and actions that seek to undermine non-discrimination protections—including efforts like I-1552 that want to repeal them—contribute to a climate of fear.
After the horrible deaths in Orlando, I got a panicked call from my daughters who were concerned for my safety. I’ve often been implored to use caution, to be safe when leaving the house. And my family’s fear has only grown as they have witnessed the increasingly hateful messages and legislation, proposed and passed, regarding transgender people.
I-1552 is a prime driver of their fear right now. Not only is the misinformation peddled by the I-1552 campaign as they gather signatures driving anti-transgender sentiments in our state, if I-1552 makes it onto the ballot and is passed I could be targeted for discrimination and harassment—legally.
“After the horrible deaths in Orlando, I got a panicked call from my daughters who were concerned for my safety. It is maddening that my loved ones have to be concerned about my safety purely because of who I am.”
I-1552 would allow places public accommodations, including businesses, to scrutinize my gender identity every time I want to do something as simple as use the restroom. It could also encourage strangers to confront me about my gender identity, possibly outing me in public.
It is maddening that my loved ones have to be concerned about my safety purely because of who I am. Luckily, with age comes stubbornness. I’ve already spent 50 years of my life hidden and refuse to live the rest of it in fear. But I do worry about future generations.
Our youth should feel nothing but love and support as they discover who they are as people. That is why Tom and I are more determined to be open to the community and lead by example, showing who we are to the world. Scrabble lovers and all.
I-1552 is an attempt to deny our youth that kind of support. That’s why we’re speaking out, and why we’ve joined other fair-minded Washingtonians to say we Decline to Sign I-1552, Washington Won’t Discriminate’s campaign against this mean-spirited initiative. Will you speak out too by signing the Decline to Sign pledge?