Alaska’s most populous city, Anchorage, will vote on a ballot measure in April that seeks to mandate “intimate facilities” in municipal buildings, like restrooms and locker rooms, only be used by persons of the same “sex.” The measure, Proposition 1, defines sex as an individual's “immutable biological condition of being male or female, as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.”
If passed, Proposition 1 would roll back aspects of Anchorage’s 2015nondiscrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity, regardless of one’s sex assigned at birth.
While proponents of the ballot measure say it was designed with public safety in mind, Lillian Lennon, a field organizer for Fair Anchorage, a bipartisan coalition aimed at defeating Proposition 1, said it would “effectively legalize discrimination against transgender citizens” and endanger trans Alaskans like herself.
“I live as a woman,” Lennon said, “and being put into a men’s restroom could put me at serious risk of harm.”
Proposition 1 is just one of many state and local initiatives on the horizon this year that LGBTQ advocates say could be harmful to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
“We are seeing a lot of anti-LGBT bills,”Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said. He added that policy changes at the federal level have made it “easy to lose sight of what is happening in the state legislatures” and on the local level.
Along with Proposition 1, the ACLU is watching ballot measures in Alabama, Montana and Massachusetts that target the transgender community.
In Massachusetts, a bill seeking to repeal the state’s 2017 transgender anti-discrimination law secured enough signatures to make it on the ballot this year. If the Massachusetts Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum is successful, it will scrap Senate Bill 2407, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places — such as hotels, restaurants and stores.
Unlike Alaska’s Proposition 1, which is limited to the city of Anchorage, Massachusetts’ referendum would be the first statewide vote on whether to maintain or scrap legislation that protects transgender people, according to the ACLU.