Transgender Community Targeted By Phoenix Nondiscrimination Opponents

The Phoenix City Council is considering changes to a local ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Unfortunately, opponents of the ordinance are resorting to lies and misinformation about transgender people in an attempt to undermine the proposed changes.

Some are complaining that the law will hold businesses accountable for discriminating against transgender people, which it will, and should.  But others are promoting the harmful myth that protecting transgender people will lead to "men going into women's bathrooms." On top of the offensive claim that transgender people are not "really" who they say they are, this stance ignores the truth of how often transgender people are harassed, abused and brutally assaulted while trying to access the bathroom. 

- Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman in Maryland, was attacked and beaten at a fast food restaurant after she was seen leaving the women's restroom. 

- Jalisa Griffen, a transgender woman in New York, was at a McDonald's waiting to enter the women's restroom when she was threatened by another customer, who slashed her boyfriend with a razor blade when he came to her defense.

- Brenda Wernikoff, a transgender woman in Boston, was arrested for refusing to leave a women's restroom. During the arrest, officers allegedly ordered Brenda to remove her shirt and expose her breasts. 

Behind the irrational fears of those opposing the Phoenix ordinance, it is clear that transgender people are the ones at risk, and this risk does not end in the bathroom. Reports from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey outline the many areas of life in which transgender people face alarming levels of bias, harassment, and violence. In light of information like this and the work of LGBT advocates, several cities and states have adopted non-discrimination policies that include gender identity. It is time for Phoenix to join them, and protect those who really need it. And it is time that the media call these scare tactics out for the lies they are.

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