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Seattle mayor signs executive order on transgender rights

Murray's signing ceremony (Image: City of Seattle)

Murray’s signing ceremony (Image: City of Seattle)

Mayor Ed Murray Thursday signed an executive order that will help Seattle City Hall make the city “fair, inclusive, and safe” for transgender and gender diverse people.

“We once again have folks down in Olympia, and in DC, and in other cities like Houston, trying to take us back to the cultural wars of the past,” Murray said Thursday. “This is a city that has moved on and this is a city that has led the nation before.”

Under the order, Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights will develop “culturally relevant trainings and guidelines” for City staff with help from community based organizations including the Pride Foundation.

“As a transgender man, I know that so few people personally know a transgender person, and it can be hard to understand what it means to be transgender — even for those trying to make sense of this issue calmly and reasonably,” Seth Kirby, vice chair of the Pride Foundation and executive director of Oasis Youth Center said in a statement. “We are part of your workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, families, churches, and communities — and we need to be able to use the restroom, just like everyone else.”

Thursday, Murray said the order came as a response to recent efforts to strip away civil rights. In February, the State Senate narrowly voted down a bathroom bill that targeted transgender rights. The mayor’s all-gender bathroom bill passed last year. The legislation was a recommendation from the mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force and the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission.

While transgender civil rights face threats — especially beyond the Seattle city limits — Murray’s response adds formal action to a wave of support and criticism of state and national leaders opposed to equal rights and gender diversity. Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League, has also announced that she will run for the 43rd District seat.

The new order directs the city to develop employment policies that City Hall “is providing a safe and inclusive workplace for its transgender and gender-diverse employees.”

Seattle Police unveiled one of the first manifestations of the work with a new internal training video for officers “on the appropriate treatment of transgender residents.” SPD developed the training in partnership with the transgender community and includes personal stories from transgender individuals. The video was prepared in accordance with SPD’s transgender policy that was unveiled earlier this year.

The entirety of the executive order can be found here.

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