This fall, voters are being asked to sign a petition to put I-183 on the ballot. I-183 purports to protect our children and our privacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I-183 legalizes discrimination and subjects our transgender fellow Montanans to harassment and violence. The facts are that half of transgender people report being verbally or physically assaulted or denied services in the past year due to their identity. Forcing transgender people to use a facility that does not match their gender would only exacerbate this danger.

Beyond the personal impacts to our fellow Montanans, I-183 is simply unworkable. The initiative places a huge burden on local governments and subjects them to litigation for “emotional distress” experienced by those who believe they have had to share a restroom with a transgender person. The initiative also provides for legal fees awarded to the prevailing party, encouraging the litigation.

No Montanan should fear for their safety just because of who they are and no Montana municipality should have to deal with the expense of frivolous lawsuits. Please join me in declining to sign any petition to put I-183 on the ballot.

Abigail St. Lawrence

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