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“‘We love you for who you are and all that matters is that you have a good life,’ my mom told me.”
March 24, 2017

Blood is blood.

With six siblings and a large Pacific Islander family, I was raised in a culture that is all about family. To this day, I still dream about our big Islander meals and can’t wait to come home to see what mom is making—and to learn my next recipe from her.

Despite all these treasured memories, the biggest lesson I’ve taken to heart has been that it doesn’t matter what you have, it matters that you love your family and stick together no matter what. That is why my community, and the life I am building here, are so important to me.

Building this life fills me with pride. When I am not looking for new ways to decorate my apartment, I’m grabbing some phở at a nearby restaurant with my roommates or my boyfriend. I’ve even gotten a promotion and am now working as a manager at the local gas station where co-workers and customers fill my days with jokes.

These may seem like simple things to some, but I’ve worked hard for them.

And as I’ve built this life in Washington, I’ve done so with the reassurance that state law ensures fair and equal treatment for transgender people like me. For 11 years, Washington has protected my dignity and ensured that I’m treated equally in the community I call home. It’s why I’ve decided I can settle down here in Lakewood

“Blood is blood. ‘We love you for who you are and all that matters is that you have a good life,’ my mom told me. With six siblings and a large Pacific Islander family, I was raised in a culture that is all about family.”

But right now, opponents of transgender equality are trying to take that safety net away.They are collecting signatures for I-1552, an initiative that would put the repeal of Washington’s non-discrimination protections  for transgender people on the November ballot.

If these protections are repealed, places of public accommodation—including businesses—would be allowed to discriminate against transgender by prohibiting us from using the restroom that’s consistent with who we are. That means I could be forced to use men’s room any time I’m out in public—an absolutely humiliating thought.

I’ve been thrust before into situations where people feel compelled to invade my privacy. Usually it’s stressful. Sometimes it’s scary.

I’ve had to watch how people react when I speak. They sense there is something different and I have to defend myself against their judgments. During those times, I feel thrust into the spotlight and have had to steal my spine to fight for who I am.

I am she. I am her. I will be respected as myself.

I got that confidence from my mom. After I had turned 14, I went to a Pride event and learned about transgender people for the first time. Something in my head clicked and I knew I couldn’t hide who I was anymore—especially from my mother.

Mom is the glue that holds our family together and she is my inspiration. No matter what is happening, the entire family knows that we have to go to mom first, listen to her advice and take it into consideration.

“If only the people who are trying to repeal the laws that protect transgender people like me could learn the same lesson: That transgender people are no less deserving of respect and dignity than any other person. We just want to live our lives—good lives—without fearing every day that we’ll be subjected to nasty looks, invasive questions or worse just to do something as simple as use the restroom.”

Telling her about myself was the most nerve wracking experience of my life. But it shouldn’t have been, because she repeated the same lesson I’ve been taught a hundred times before.

“Blood is blood. We love you for who you are and all that matters is that you have a good life,” my mom told me.

If only the people who are trying to repeal the laws that protect transgender people like me could learn the same lesson: That transgender people are no less deserving of respect and dignity than any other person. We just want to live our lives—good lives—without fearing every day that we’ll be subjected to nasty looks, invasive questions or worse just to do something as simple as use the restroom.

Repealing Washington’s transgender non-discrimination protections means that I would have to worry about all that, while at the same time knowing the law won’t protect me if something does happen.

Soon after I told my mom I was transgender, I bought my own pair of five-inch heels and never looked back. I felt centered in myself. At 16, I reflected back and knew I was fabulous.

To say life has always been perfect or easy would be a lie. Being transgender is already a day to day battle, and repealing Washington’s longstanding non-discrimination protections would make each day harder. It is really frustrating to see people devalue the life I have built and belittle who transgender people are.

However, my family’s guidance and values have helped me shoulder that burden. There may be rough moments—like the push to get I-1552 on the ballot—but that is what makes us shine.

“To say life has always been perfect or easy would be a lie. Being transgender is already a day to day battle, and repealing Washington’s longstanding non-discrimination protections would make each day harder.”

Across Washington, transgender people like me and supportive allies like my mom are signing the Decline to Sign pledge to show that even as anti-transgender forces are collecting signatures for their dangerous ballot initiative, even more Washingtonians are committed to protecting their transgender friends, family and neighbors. Click here to sign the pledge and join them.