Anti-Transgender Coalition Leader in Washington Directs Men to Follow Women into Restrooms

By Adam Polaski • June 16, 2016 • 4:17 pm

This week, the leader of an anti-transgender initiative in Washington State has come under scrutiny after he repeatedly told men working on a campaign to follow women into restrooms to intimidate them into signing a petition for Initiative 1515, which would repeal transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections that have been in place in the state for more than 10 years.


In a recording obtained by KIRO 7, Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said:

“For the gentlemen, what I would encourage you to do, if you are so bold and to make the point, take your petition and stand outside the women’s restroom at the mall. If any of the women don’t want to sign it, just go ahead and follow them in [laughter from crowd].  Maybe this will be a better time to sign our little petition, and we can make the point that way.”

Backholm, who has been recorded making similar comments in the past, has not commented on his disturbing directive.

Kasey Suffredini, Chief Program officer for Freedom for All Americans and director of the Transgender Freedom Project, said today:

“It is deeply troubling that the Family Policy Institute of Washington is directing petition gatherers to intimidate women into signing their petition. The transgender community strongly believes that everyone should be able to use the restroom in peace, without fear of harassment or intimidation. That’s why nondiscrimination protections that cover public accommodations are so important.”

Backholm is fighting for I-1515, which would take away these protections for transgender individuals and open them up to discrimination and harassment. The measure would also prohibit local communities from adopting protections for transgender individuals.

Suffredini continued: “It is currently illegal to go into the bathroom to harass or assault another person. The only person in this debate who advocated for men to go into a restroom to harass and intimate anyone is Joseph Backholm. This type of dangerous directive has no place in Washington, and it shows the true colors behind the person advocating for this dangerous and discriminatory measure.”

Freedom for All Americans is proud to be working on a campaign to fight against I-1515 and provide vital public education about why transgender non-discrimination protections matter. The campaign, Washington Won’t Discriminate, launched earlier this year and is now calling for Joseph Backholm to be fired.

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