With so much happening across the country, it can be easy to miss local threats that are developing under the radar. We are writing today to ensure that Montanans stay informed about the issues that are facing our local community.
The Montana Family Foundation is now collecting petition signatures to put I-183 on the ballot in 2018. I-183 is a dangerous proposal that, if passed by voters, would legalize discrimination and deeply harm transgender and gender diverse people who live in, work, and visit Montana.
Here in Montana, Pride Foundation continues to work in coalition working to fight back against this harmful proposal and ensure a Free and Fair Montana. We are a coalition of anti-violence, LGBTQ, and allied organizations and businesses working together to ensure that transgender and gender diverse voices are heard, and that every Montanan is educated on the true intentions and dangers of I-183.
As part of this education, we want to share helpful FAQs about I-183, as well as plans for the road ahead.
What is I-183 and who is fighting against it?
I-183 is a harmful proposal that, if passed, would prohibit transgender and gender diverse people from using public facilities that match how they live every day. Any of us could have to prove our gender, and anyone could demand to see our birth certificate before allowing use of basic public spaces, like restrooms. Everyone deserves to use public facilities with safety, privacy, and dignity.
Coalition partners working to defeat I-183 include a diverse coalition of organizations representing trans Montanans and their allies, working to advance the dignity and safety of all Montanans.
What’s the latest news on this harmful initiative?
As a coalition, we are very concerned at the misleading and vague nature of the initiative language and how initiative backers are representing the proposal to the broader public.
Recently, our coalition had a victory: The ACLU of Montana challenged this problematic ballot initiative language and the Montana Supreme Court ruled in our favor. Attorney General Tim Fox then revisited the initiative language and made changes in an attempt to replace it with something that more accurately portrays the true nature of its discriminatory intent.
Despite these changes, the problematic language remains—but we are committed to determining the right next steps to fully show up for trans and gender diverse Montanans.
What’s next in the fight against I-183?
Our coalition is proceeding with a public education campaign to share stories of transgender and gender diverse Montanans. We are also moving forward with a decline to sign campaign including phone banks and canvassing so we can talk with as many voters as possible regarding the dangers of I-183.
We will also be meeting with leaders in the state, as well as conducting educational trainings so allies have the most current messaging and can share the impact with their networks.
How can I act now to support my transgender friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members?
Learn more at Free and Fair Montana, where you can sign up to volunteer and pledge to oppose I-183.
We won’t stop until we’ve defeated these harmful and dangerous efforts led by anti-LGBTQ activists, and we will continue to elevate and center the voices of those most impacted—transgender and gender diverse Montanans.
We’ll keep you posted as our work progresses. Thank you for your continued support and unrelenting pursuit of dignity, fairness, and a Montana where everyone’s humanity is valued.
Kim Leighton is Pride Foundation’s Regional Philanthropy Officer in Montana
Shawn Reagor is a member of the Pride Foundation Montana Advisory Council and the Director at Montana Gender Alliance