By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
SEATTLE – People around the world are celebrating International Transgender Day of Visibility today. Washington state has been a leader on transgender rights, adding protections for the community a decade ago.
However, lawmakers this legislative session proposed reversals to those protections, such as a measure that would eliminate transgender people’s right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.
Michelle Douglas is executive director with Tacoma’s Rainbow Center, which provides safe space for the LGBTA communities.
“When we think about it, using the bathroom is a pretty basic right,” she says. “So we’re talking about limiting travel and things like that.”
That legislative measure failed, but a coalition called the “Just Want Privacy Campaign” has filed a similar ballot initiative.
Last week, North Carolina’s governor signed a law banning transgender people from using the bathroom they identify with.
That law prompted Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to order city and state employees, respectively, not to take publicly-funded trips to the southern state.
Douglas says she was “devastated” by the passing of the North Carolina law.
“We saw a rollback of epic levels for all kinds of people to be protected,” says Douglas. “And we’re talking about basic fundamentals of life.”
Douglas is more hopeful about the state of Washington.
She says adding transgender rights to the Washington Law Against Discrimination in 2006 is a sign of progress on the issue, although she adds more work still has to be done.