Residents of Anchorage, Alaska, defeated a ballot proposition that would have made it illegal for transgender people to use municipal restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms that match their gender identity, as opposed to the gender they were assigned at birth.
The Fair Anchorage campaign argued that the proposal, which would have repealed parts of the city’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance, was discriminatory and would open the door to harassment.
“Transgender people simply want the same rights afforded to all other people — the ability to live openly and participate fully in the world, without the fear of being harassed, intimidated, or vulnerable to violence,” the coalition said in a press release.
Proposition 1 would have required people to provide proof of gender by birth certificate.
Fair Anchorage argued that the measure was almost identical to the so-called “bathroom bill” that North Carolina passed in 2016. That bill was repealed last year after the state faced a number of boycotts that negatively impacted its reputation and economy.
On the other side, Alaska Family Action contended that allowing transgender individuals to use a restroom, locker room or dressing room that corresponded to their gender identity would threaten the privacy and safety of women and girls.
Fair Anchorage vigorously disputed that suggestion.
“In the 18 states and over 200 cities — including Anchorage — where similar nondiscrimination protections are in effect, there has not been a single uptick in public safety incidents,” the campaign said.
It further argued that transgender individuals would face a greater risk of harm if the measure passed, as other people might feel entitled to accost them and question their gender in public restrooms.
“The reality is we’re seeing these ‘bathroom bills’ come as a backlash to marriage equality and it’s become a wave across the country,” Kati Ward, campaign manager for Fair Anchorage, recently told the Southern Poverty Law Center. “As soon as marriage equality was obtained, then the bathroom bills started popping up.”
Anchorage’s police chief pointed out that his department didn’t have enough staff to post an officer at every public facility to enforce the proposed law.
Last year, Anchorage chose its first two openly gay elected officials, Christopher Constant and Felix Rivera, who sit in the municipal assembly.