At the end of MoHagani Magnetek’s 8 years in the US Coast Guard, the Pentagon began taking steps to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the discriminatory policy that barred open service for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from 1993 to 2011.
But transgender service members would have to wait an additional five years, until 2016, to serve openly—a policy change the Trump Administration has now reversed.None of this had an immediate effect on MoHagani—she is transgender, but didn’t start expressing her female identity until she was discharged—but she said her heart breaks for those who are still enlisted.
“I felt really good for my friends and my shipmates who are on active duty, and now I feel really horrible,” she says. “People have jobs and families. This is their career, and this administration is talking about taking that away.”
“I felt really good for my friends and my shipmates who are on active duty, and now I feel really horrible. People have jobs and families. This is their career, and this administration is talking about taking that away.”—MoHagani Magnetek
But MoHagani’s more immediate concern is local: Proposition 1 would repeal non-discrimination protections for transgender people under Anchorage law.
MoHagani recounts a list of times over the last 5 years that she’s experienced discrimination and harassment inside and outside the city limits, where there are no protections. The first was when she was confronted using a ladies’ room in 2013. A while after that, a bus driver badgered her about her gender while she was trying to board.
Then this year, at the end of August, she was in the Valley when a man grabbed and lifted her skirt to “check” her gender.If Proposition 1 passes next year, and Anchorage’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people are repealed, it could very well invite this kind of harassment as a new norm in Alaska’s largest city. Proposition 1 would allow strangers to demand to check the sex on a person’s birth certificate before allowing them to access certain public facilities.
MoHagani says that right now, Anchorage’s non-discrimination law is the only thing standing between her and this kind of behavior in a state there are no statewide laws to protect her from discrimination.
“The law makes me feel more comfortable, no doubt about that. [But] it only takes 15 minutes to get out of the city, and I’m not protected anywhere outside the city limits.”
“The law makes me feel more comfortable, no doubt about that,” she says. But, she also notes that “it only takes 15 minutes to get out of the city, and I’m not protected anywhere outside the city limits.”
She says she feels so vulnerable at times, she’s considering moving. And if Proposition 1 passes, that would only hasten her decision.
MoHagani has hope, though, that voters will make the right choice when they go to the polls next April. After all, she says, transgender people are becoming more visible in communities across the country every day—and as more Anchorage residents get to know their transgender neighbors, family and friends, they too will come to realize that there’s simply no good reason to roll back our city’s laws ensuring fair and equal treatment for everyone.
In April 2018, non-discrimination protections that keep transgender people like MoHagani safe will be on the ballot in Anchorage. If you’re committed to upholding these protections, sign our pledge to vote against Proposition 1and keep Anchorage fair.