Prop. 1 doesn’t do anything to make Anchorage public restrooms safer

I am proud of a long and distinguished career working to keep Anchorage safe for all of Anchorage's residents. I worked for the Anchorage Police Department for 24 years. I then served as the Public Safety Committee chair for the six years I held office on the Anchorage Assembly.

In September 2015, during my time in office, I voted with the overwhelming majority of Assembly members for a better, fairer city. Anchorage's nondiscrimination law allows all our residents to live with dignity and respect. It ensures basic protections for different groups of people under state law so that no one fears discrimination because of who they are, including transgender people.

There were concerns at the time about what the law meant for safety in restrooms, and considerations of an exemption. Ultimately, we did the right thing in ensuring that transgender people can have the same fair access to all places in Anchorage, including restrooms, that the majority of Alaskans already have. If public safety problems had resulted from the law, I would support changes to the law now to amend and fix it.

But it is extremely clear that Anchorage has not had safety problems from our nondiscrimination ordinance. In fact, in my decades-long experience as a police officer as well as since the law's 2015 passage, I cannot recall one single incident that involved someone who claimed to be transgender in order to hurt another person or invade someone else's privacy in a locker room, restroom, shower, or any other gender-segregated area. I cannot recall one single incident ever taking place that would justify elimination of equal protections under the law, but that's what Proposition 1 would do.

Proposition 1 would do nothing to increase safety in restrooms or other spaces. Laws already exist that prohibit stalking, harassment, or violence, and those laws are clearly working well. Crime is a problem in Anchorage, but not because we ensure protections for transgender people from discrimination. We need to spend resources on addressing problems like property theft, not on staffing police officers outside of restrooms.

The truth is, Proposition 1 would strip basic protections from our transgender neighbors who, just like the rest of us, work hard to provide for themselves, take care of their families, and contribute to our thriving city. Stripping protections from transgender people means weakening our city overall and sending a message that Anchorage is not the welcoming, diverse place that we know and love it to be.

Anchorage, we are better than that. Don't fall for deceptive and misleading tactics that don't tell the truth about who transgender people are. This is simple: everyone deserves to be treated fairly, and the law is working as it should be. This Tuesday Vote No on Prop 1.

Paul Honeman is a former Anchorage police officer and Assembly member.

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