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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 11, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 11
Mayor Murray signs executive order granting protections for Seattle Trans* Community
Section One
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Mayor Murray signs executive order granting protections for Seattle Trans* Community

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order on Thursday morning, March 10, instructing the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to develop uniform guidance and trainings for front-line City staff on how to best continue providing safe and inclusive spaces for residents, including Transgender and gender-diverse people. The order also instructs the City to continue work notifying businesses with places of public accommodation of Seattle's all-gender restroom signage law.

'City facilities must be safe and welcoming places for all residents, including Transgender and gender-diverse people,' said Mayor Murray before signing the Executive Order. 'Front-line City staff will have the training they need to understand our ordinances and state laws that protect the rights of Transgender people and protect them from harassment and violence. The law requires that we provide access to the facilities that correspond to a person's gender identity, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.'

Under the Executive Order, OCR will develop culturally relevant trainings and guidelines for City staff in coordination with community based organizations.

According to the mayor, the trainings will help staff that work directly with the public to follow existing City ordinances that ensure members of the Transgender community have fair and equal access to restrooms and other places of public accommodation.

Currently in Washington, and in a number of state's around the country, LGBTQ rights are under attack by the Religious Right who have found that by attacking Transgender rights in particular, they stand the chance to roll back many of the hard earned advances that the LGBTQ community has worked so hard to achieve over the past few decades. As recently as last year, the LGBTQ community has seen its movement to achieve full equality under the law - in Washington state and around the nation - quicken in pace. Locally, several anti-Transgender bills were filed in the state legislature that would take away protections that Transgender Washingtonians currently enjoy (for more than a decade) in which the state says they have access to use whichever restroom facility that they identify with in terms of gender expression or identity. Local leaders like Danni Askini, executive director at Gender Justice League and current candidate for state House of Representatives, helped to form a strong coalition, Washington SAFE, and successfully defeated each piece of legislation. Now, due to the state's initiative laws, the bigots have set out to put the issue before the voters this November.

Mayor Ed Murray has condemned the actions of the Religious Right and took steps Thursday to further protect Seattle Transgender folks' rights by signing the Executive Order.

In August of 2015, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Mayor Murray's proposal requiring all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender facilities. The legislation also clarifies existing law allowing individuals to use restrooms and facilities of their chosen gender identity or expression.

The legislation was a recommendation from the Mayor's LGBTQ Task Force and the City of Seattle's LGBTQ Commission.

'The Mayor's Executive Order affirms our City's commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people,' said Patricia Lally, Director of the Office for Civil Rights. 'My staff and I are eager to develop training for City staff on the rights of Transgender and gender-diverse people that can serve as a model for how to create an inclusive environment.'

'As a Transgender man, I know that so few people personally know a transgender person, and it can be hard to understand what it means to be Transgender - even for those trying to make sense of this issue calmly and reasonably,' said Seth Kirby, Vice Chair of the Pride Foundation and Executive Director of Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma. 'We are part of your workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, families, churches, and communities - and we need to be able to use the restroom, just like everyone else. Pride Foundation looks forward to working to ensure no one is excluded or unfairly discriminated against simply because of who they are, especially Transgender people.'

The order also directs OCR and the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) to develop employment policies that ensure that the City, in its role as an employer, is providing a safe and inclusive workplace for its Transgender and gender-diverse employees.

'SDHR is fully committed to and inspired by the Mayor's commitment to equity and inclusion for our City employees,' said Susan Coskey, director of SDHR. 'The City as an employer must model the behaviors, policies and practices that we expect from other employers in the region. Developing and implementing the inclusive policies described in the Executive Order is not only the right thing to do for our Transgender and gender-diverse employees, it is also the right thing to do for all City employees.'

Standing with longtime Transgender advocate and community icon Marsha Botzer, founder of the Ingersoll Gender Center, during the signing of the Executive Order, were Social Outreach Seattle (SOSea) Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Outreach Director Mac S. McGregor, Equal Rights Washington Executive Director Monisha Harrell, SPD LGBTQ Liaison Officer Jim Ritter, Gender Justice League Executive Director Danni Askini, and Greater Seattle Business Association Public Policy and Communications Manager Matt Landers, to name a few.

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Danni Askini, candidate for 43rd District House seat

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