Washington State's Continued Fight for Transgender Rights

February 9, 2016Tracy Wolf

Across the country, there has been an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced in state legislatures. These bills seek to roll back the few protections that currently exist for LGBT people in the areas of housing, employment, credit and public spaces and service (also known as public accommodations). Oftentimes, these bills specifically target individuals who are transgender or gender non-conforming.

Recently, one of these bills was introduced in Washington State. Bill H.B. 2589 would amend Washington’s Law Against Discrimination to take away the ability of transgender people to use restroom facilities according to their gender identity (the gender they live as every day and know themselves to be). Since 2006, in Washington State legal protections have allowed people to access restrooms and changing rooms consistent with their gender identity, and H.B. 2589, a so-called “bathroom bill” aims to overturn these protections for LGBT Washingtonians, and specifically targets the transgender and gender non-conforming community as not worthy of equal protection under the law.

Reform Judaism has long advocated for the rights of LGBT people. Most recently, at the 2015 URJ Biennial in Orlando, the URJ unanimously passed a historic resolution on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people stating, “Knowing that members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities are often singled out for discrimination and even violence, we are reminded of the Torah’s injunction, do not stand idly while your neighbor bleeds” (Leviticus 19:16). We cannot be bystanders while people in Washington and across the United States are being discriminated against solely on the basis of their gender identity. This is why the Union for Reform Judaism has signed onto the Washington Safety and Access for Everyone (SAFE) Alliance along with many other organizations working to defend longstanding anti-discrimination laws, especially for the transgender community.

While H.B.2598 bill seeks to take away vital anti-discrimination protections for transgender citizens that already exist in Washington State, there are many states that still do not have any protections in place for LGBT individuals. Because of this lack of legislation, LGBT people are still discriminated against in many aspects of our society, such as employment, housing public spaces and services. The Equality Act (H.R.3185/S.1858) will address this issue nationally by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Take action and urge your Member of Congress to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination.

Upon the passage of the URJ’s resolution, we partnered with Keshet, an organization committed to full equality and inclusion for LGBT Jews, to create a one page resource on congregational transgender inclusion. To learn more about issues surrounding LGBT equality, visit our issue page. For more information about the Washington SAFE Alliance, visit their webpage

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