Organizers in Anchorage working against Prop 1

It’s state legislature season, which means an exciting and often terrifying rollercoaster of bills across the country. From New Hampshire to Tennessee, we’re seeing bills pop up, get shot down, and occasionally pop back up again in rapid succession.

But some of the most important trans rights efforts right now are long-haul campaigns. In two states and one city, public accommodations protections for trans people (and specifically bathroom access) are being attacked at the ballot box.

Fortunately, we have great news from the first of these fights: we won!

While the Montana and Massachusetts elections aren’t until November, earlier this month voters upheld protections for trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people in Anchorage, Alaska, by nearly a six point margin. This is the first time that TGNC protections alone (that is, not in a package deal with sexual orientation) have been put to a vote and won.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this victory. The Fair Anchorage campaign and the broad coalition it assembled did incredible work educating Alaskans, building connections, refuting the opposition’s fear-based message, and driving turnout — all in the city’s first experience with voting by mail.

Transgender Law Center has been working particularly closely with leaders from Anchorage and Montana, and we brought the two groups together for a training last year. The sheer organizing potential in those Seattle conference rooms was breathtaking, and many of the people we built with from both states have played crucial roles in Anchorage’s success, from running the campaign’s field operations and debating the bathroom bill’s authors to a prize-winning performance in an outhouse race. During the three weeks of voting, the city united behind them to reject Proposition 1.

As the year progresses and Montana and Massachusetts ratchet up their own long term education and advocacy efforts, we’ll be building on the solidarity clearly demonstrated in Anchorage. Thanks to the hard work and strong ground game of Alaska’s TGNC community and the coalition assembled around them, we’re carrying tremendous momentum into the next two showdowns.  

This post, by TLC Policy Coordinator Corinne Green, is part of our Policy Desk series