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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 28
'Flush Hate!' demand local activists

They confront I-1515 boss Joseph Backholm
Section One
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'Flush Hate!' demand local activists

They confront I-1515 boss Joseph Backholm

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Transgender activists from Seattle and Tacoma confronted I-1515 boss Joseph Backholm at the initiative campaign's Lynnwood office on July 7, delivering more than 1,000 postcards opposing the anti-Trans measure.

'Flush Hate!' was the theme, as the activists - organized by LGBTQ Allyship - set up a rainbow-glittered toilet and filled it with the postcards.

They also posted an open letter to Backholm demanding that he 'do the right thing and flush hate out of Washington state and make restrooms safe for all!'

'Initiative 1515...disproportionately impacts trans and gender-nonconforming workers, especially low-income workers,' the letter reads in part.

'Every human being uses the bathroom at work or school or in public. By eliminating trans and gender-nonconforming workers' ability to use the bathroom that matches the gender they live daily, it will impede workers' ability to safely work free from harassment and violence.'

According to reports from the scene, Backholm initially locked himself in his office, briefly imprisoning a KIRO-7 news crew. When he finally emerged, he refused to accept the postcards but did attempt to justify himself to the assembled activists.

'When Backholm came out to talk to us, he started telling me what safety means to a woman. It was surreal to be told by a cisgender man what safety means to me. I definitely didn't feel heard regarding how my safety will be impacted if I-1515 passes,' said Dinah Braccio, one of the Trans activists leading the protest.

'Backholm kept talking about hypothetical 'what if' scenarios in regards to the safety of others, but disregarding the safety of trans and gender-nonconforming people,' activist and urban planner Yes Segura said.

'The fact that there aren't any cases of trans people being violent in bathrooms shows that fear is driving his push for this anti-trans/anti-gender-nonconforming legislation. As a Latino trans man, people who use fear to promote hateful LGBTQ rhetoric for this type of legislation not only put my safety and freedom at considerable risk but the rest of my trans community at risk as well. This is because trans people of color disproportionately experience violence in public and in bathrooms.'

The I-1515 campaign has until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8, to submit some 246,000 valid signatures in order to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Experts say they need to submit about 300,000 to ensure they will have enough valid signatures once duplicates, nonvoters, and unverifiable signatures are tossed out.

Backholm has reportedly made an appointment to deliver petitions to the Secretary of State's Olympia office, but the campaign currently reports only 170,206 signatures.

If I-1515 fails to qualify for the November ballot, state rules guaranteeing Trans residents access to gender-appropriate restrooms will stand.

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