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Voters in Alaska Reject Anti-Transgender ‘Bathroom Bill’

Voters in Anchorage, Alaska filed an important victory for transgender rights last week when they narrowly elected to defeat a city-wide “bathroom bill.”

The bill, Proposition 1, would have forced transgender people to use public bathrooms and locker rooms that coincide with the sex printed on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. It was proposed by the nonprofit Christian policy group Alaska Family Action, according to Newsweek.

More than 40,000 people — about 53% of those who voted —  rejected the bill in Anchorage’s first vote-by-mail election, according to CNN.

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“This was an amazing week for the rights of Alaskans,” wrote Joshua Decker, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, in a blog post celebrating the results. “I’m truly moved that this campaign was committed to centering this effort around the voices and experiences of the transgender community.”

The ACLU joined Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, Anchorage’s Transgender Leadership Council, and other local and national organizations to make up the Fair Anchorage coalition, which campaigned for nearly a year and raised $824,000 to defeat Proposition 1, according to Decker.

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So-called “bathroom bills” have stirred controversy in the United States ever since North Carolina passed a law in 2016 that included measures requiring transgender people to use public restrooms consistent with their sex at birth. Proponents of such laws claim that they prevent men from posing as women and assaulting women and children in bathrooms, but no tangible evidence supports that .

Rather, transgender rights advocates argue that bathroom bills are, above all, opportunities to discriminate against transgender people.

“Proposition 1 allows strangers to demand to check a person’s ‘sex at birth’ before allowing access to certain restrooms and public facilities,” reads a page on Fair Anchorage’s website.

“Anchorage voters rejected fear and intimidation to affirm that everyone in our city should have the same fundamental dignity and protection under the law,” Lillian Lennon, a field organizer for Fair Anchorage, said in a statement.

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Despite the win, activists in Alaska acknowledge that their work is far from over.

“We also must recognize that while we won this victory, there were still 47% of Anchorage voters who said they didn’t think transgender folks deserved the same rights as everyone else,” wrote Decker of the ACLU. “That is a number too high to guarantee the merchants of inequality behind Prop. 1 won’t try again, or even that they can’t succeed if we as a community don't remain steadfast.”

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