Metro Weekly

Washington State anti-transgender ballot initiative falls 20,000 signatures short

Measure would have repealed rule allowing transgender people to use facilities matching their gender identity

Washington Won’t Discriminate volunteers – Photo: Facebook.

Washington State voters will not see a measure seeking to roll back protections for transgender individuals on the ballot this November after the group spearheading the measure failed to gather enough petition signatures, reports The Seattle Times.

The group, Just Want Privacy, needed to collect 260,000 signatures by Friday, July 7, to place the issue on the ballot. They only managed to collect 240,000 signatures. Typically, most initiatives try to collect more than the required number of signatures, in case some of the signatures are thrown out because the petition-signers aren’t registered voters, and have provided fake names or fraudulent identities.

Had it made it onto the ballot, the initiative would have reversed a 2015 state regulation allowing transgender people to use facilities matching their gender identity, rather than only those locker rooms or restrooms that match their biological sex at birth.

The regulation, which was issued by the Human Rights Commission, did not introduce new protections, but merely clarified the rights of transgender people under Washington State’s law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

As with almost every other state where transgender rights has been debated, opponents of the law argued that sexual predators would take advantage of the law to harm women and children in public restrooms or locker rooms. Defenders of the law dismiss those arguments as scare-mongering, saying that it is already illegal to attack people in restrooms and locker rooms .

In a spot of bright news for opponents, they managed to obtain 20,000 more signatures than they had when they mounted a similar drive for signatures in 2016. 

“[W]e know that so many more people throughout the state would be willing to sign if given the chance,” the statement said. “But the truth is that we simply couldn’t reach them in time.”

“We all care about safety and privacy, but people understand that repealing protections from discrimination for transgender people won’t make anyone safer,” Seth Kirby, the chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, which opposed the initiative, said in a statement. 

“It’s already a felony to assault or harass someone in public facilities, and no one should have to prove their gender to self-appointed bathroom cops.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com