Tacoma unites for transgender rights

Allison Fitz

An estimated 2,000 people gathered at the University of Washington Tacoma campus on Saturday, February 25, to protest for the rights of transgender people in light of Washington State’s proposed Initiative 1552 that would decline students the right to use public bathrooms according to gender identity.

On Wednesday, February 22, President Trump repealed the Obama Administration executive order saying that public schools need to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice. Since Trump’s presidency, rallies protesting his policies on transgender, immigration, and women’s rights have erupted throughout the country. The Tacoma rally for transgender rights was organized three days prior on Wednesday over social media.

Around midday, Tacomans filled the UWT stairs with signs, music and chants. Many volunteers offered pledges to decline to sign I-1552, which needs 330,000 signatures by July 7 to appear on the next ballot. The rally continued with a series of speakers, including a Lutheran minister, Tacoma citizens, United States Representative Derek Kilmer and State Representative Laurie Jinkins.

When asked about her main take-aways of the event, Jinkins responded, “I was incredibly impressed with the fact that 2000 people showed up for a rally that they called on Wednesday…which I think does show that there is a lot of support for transgender students out there.”

As far as how to keep progressing with the issue, Jinkins said, “We have to do the same thing everywhere, which is to talk to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers about the issue, help understand where people are at, and also help people see the connection between the discrimination against transgender people, the discrimination against lesbian and gay people, against people of color, against women — they are all interconnected. Especially in these environments that we are in now, it’s not just going to stop with one. It will go on to the next group and the next and the next. So it is important that we stand together. I’m hoping that what we spend our time doing is door to door and person to person conversations.”

One speaker at the rally summarized the effects of the initiative saying, “This is not about whether or not we are allowed to use the bathroom, it is about whether or not we are allowed in public,” and she then concluded with the statement: “Trans people are friends, family, and co-workers of mine,” the crowd responding with applause and a cheer, shouting, “Decline to sign, Decline to sign.”

Here is a link to the “Just Want Privacy” website, the group that is arguing for I-1552.

Here is a link to the “Washington Won’t Discriminate” website, where you can add your name to oppose I-1552, regardless of whether or not you are a registered voter in Washington.