A ballot initiative in Anchorage that would have removed transgender protections from the city’s non-discrimination ordinance has been defeated, transgender advocates against the measure declared Friday night.
Although the city had yet to declare the results officially, 57.3 percent of voters had rejected Proposition 1 in the ballots that were counted as of Friday night. With fewer than 10,000 ballots left to count, the campaign against the measure declared victory. The deadline to vote was Tuesday.
The defeat of Proposition 1, which sought to bar transgender people from locker rooms and bathrooms in workplaces and public accommodations consistent with their gender identity, makes Anchorage the first city in the United States to reject an anti-trans measure at the ballot. The rejection of the measure also ensures Anchorage, which passed its trans-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in 2015, is one of more than 250 cities across the country with such a policy in place.
Lillian Lennon, field organizer for Fair Anchorage, the campaign to defeat Proposition 1, said in a statement Anchorage voters “rejected fear and intimidation to affirm that everyone in our city should have the same fundamental dignity and protection under the law.”
“As a transgender woman, this victory is deeply personal to me and to so many of us in the transgender community,” Lennon said. “It means voters saw past misleading tactics by opponents of transgender equality in order to treat people like me fairly. In a world that can be so hostile to transgender people in our daily lives, to know that the city of Anchorage has our backs means everything.”
The Anchorage results stand in contrast to the results in 2015 against the Houston Equal Right Ordinance, a non-discrimination measure that was repealed at the ballot after opponents stoked fears about transgender people using the restroom, implying it would endanger children by opening them up to sexual assault. The non-discrimination ordinance, however, wouldn’t have eliminated penalties for that crime and no jurisdiction with a trans-inclusive non-discrimination has reported problems along those lines.
Masen Davis, CEO of the LGBT group Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement the results demonstrate “the tide is turning in our movement for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.”
“Our triumph in Anchorage shows that advocates for nondiscrimination protections know what it takes to win voters and change hearts and minds,” Davis said. “The local campaign mobilized early, recruited a strong and diverse coalition, spearheaded a citywide conversation, and fired on all cylinders to run a successful campaign that put the faces, voices, and families of transgender people first. The campaigns ahead won’t be easy, but Anchorage will serve as a shining example of what we can achieve when we have honest, one-on-one conversations about who transgender people are.”
In the aftermath of the results, Fair Anchorage boasted running a campaign since Spring 2017 that featured Anchorage residents who would have been directly and negatively affected by Proposition 1, especially transgender youth and their families.
According to Fair Anchorage, Proposition 1 was opposed by leading experts on public safety and women’s privacy; the Anchorage Education Association; more than 110 local community leaders; 50 Anchorage businesses including the Anchorage Chamber, Anchorage Economic Development Corporation and Visit Anchorage; and dozens of faith leaders and congregations.
Kati Ward, campaign manager of Fair Anchorage, said in a statement the defeat of Proposition 1 in Anchorage marked a “groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind victory” and was the result of transgender people sharing their personal stories.
“When we learned last year that Proposition 1 might be on the ballot, we began to create a coalition that our city has never seen before,” Ward said. “We brought together a powerful alliance of bipartisan elected officials, businesses, faith leaders, safety advocates, women, educators and families to send the message that Anchorage values freedom for all. This is a victory not only for transgender people, but for their allies and everyone who is proud to call Anchorage a welcoming place.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.