MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Washington state throws shade at Texas over transgender case

Jul 28, 2016, 7:32 AM | Updated: 10:07 am

The State of Washington is making a stand against an effort to avoid federal guidelines for transgender bathroom access.

“In my view, the lawsuit is another unacceptable example of discrimination that transgender individuals experience,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

Washington is leading a coalition of 12 states, and Washington D.C., in opposing Texas’ request of a federal court for an injunction. That injunction would block federal guidelines which prevent employers and schools from discriminating against transgender individuals when it comes to bathroom access.

Related: Effort for Washington transgender bathroom initiative fails

The coalition includes Washington, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington D.C. The coalition filed an amicus brief Wednesday — also known as a “friend of the court” brief. It holds no legal weight, rather, it offers legal opinions on the issue and attempts to argue against Texas’ stance.

“I decided Washington state should offer to lead on this particular brief because I view a central component of my job is to uphold the civil rights of all Washingtonians,” Ferguson said. “And the case in Texas has a direct impact on transgender individuals across our country.”

“Washington state is one of 20 states that offers civil rights protections to transgender individuals,” he said. “And I wanted the court and Texas to hear specifically from states like Washington and our experience with upholding rights of transgender individuals.”

Texas is bringing its request for an injunction with a collection of states as well, including Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

According to Solicitor General Noah Purcell, Texas and the other states must prove that they will be harmed in the absence of an injunction; that an injunction would be in the interest of the public; and that the balance of equity would favor them. It’s those arguments that Washington is focusing on in the brief.

“Texas’ basic claims about harm is that, first and foremost, the federal guidelines will lead to more bathroom crime,” Purcell said. “There is absolutely no evidence to support hat. Texas cites no evidence to support that.”

“Texas also claims these guidelines will cause them to lose funding imminently,” he said. “We point out that there is a long process the federal government has to go through before it can deny a state funding. None of that process has even begun – Texas faces no threat of imminent harm. Texas claims it will incur massive construction costs to comply with the federal guidance. That is not true. Our state has been able to comply and protect against gender identity discrimination without incurring construction costs.”

As for equity and public interest, Purcell said that transgender individuals currently face massive discrimination, and protecting them reduces such problems in the county and makes everyone better off.

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