A Letter To My Neighborhood Businesses


You are probably aware that a Washington group called “Just Want Privacy” has launched a campaign to place on the November ballot Initiative 1515, which would repeal gender identity protections already in place and allow business to limit access to restrooms, changing rooms, etc. on the basis of visitors’ genitals or DNA, rather than on their actual gender. The law purports to protect the public from assault, indecent exposure, and voyeurism — but there is no evidence that these acts are perpetrated by trans* or even pretending-to-be-trans* people, only that Just Want Privacy would like to make people believe as much in order to perpetrate their bigotry.

The truth is that it is not the predominantly cisgender public, but our transgender friends who need support and protection. According to a recent survey, one-fifth of transgender Americans report having experienced homelessness, with a current homelessness rate of twice that of the general population and an extreme poverty rate almost four times higher than the population at large. 90% report harassment at work and 53% in places such as restaurants, airports, and hotels. And an astounding 41% of transgender people attempt suicide at some point in their lifetime.

Coming out publicly against I-1515 will show your friends, neighbors, and customers that you welcome people of all identities into your business and that their money will support those who have no tolerance for bigotry or institutionalized discrimination. The organization Washington Won’t Discriminate has put together a coalition of businesses who are eager to send just that message, and has made it easy for you to add your name. As a neighbor and customer myself I would be overjoyed to see a “This Business Won’t Discriminate” sign in your window, and would be proud to walk through your doors and spend my money.

Please visit http://www.washingtonwontdiscriminate.org/business-coalition/ for more about the Washington Won’t Discriminate Business Coalition and to sign up. Thank you for your commitment to the true spirit of community.

Brittney Bollay