Jack (pronouns: he/him) is an IT worker who works in Redmond and lives on the Eastside. He identifies as a gender non-conforming individual on the asexual spectrum.
oil on canvas board
Threats to LGBTQ people on the Eastside and in WA
In the 1990s, a group of kids threatened me in an Eastside city because of my gender non-conforming appearance. It happened in a public space. I did not know those teens.
And in case you’re wondering if I provoked them, all I did was walk past them. I did not even look at them before they made remarks about my ambiguous gender expression and threatened me. The encounter could have turned ugly but I got away.
I was fortunate. Back then, I had already read about worse things done to LGBTQ+ teens in WA by their peers. Other LGBTQ people also told me about being threatened on the Eastside.
Years passed without me running into more alarming incidents. I started to believe that we were living in better times. But I saw things deteriorate over the past few years. In 2018, Seattle transgender activist Danni Askini was forced to seek asylum in Sweden after receiving numerous threats from white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
In 2019, there were multiple incidents of vandalism targeting LGBTQ symbols in the Greater Seattle area, including an explosion targeting a Renton church’s Pride Month display.
In December 2019, the remains of Nikki Kuhnhausen were found at Larch Mountain. The Vancouver teen, who had been missing since June 2019, was murdered by a man after he found out that she was transgender.
In 2020, the WA senate passed the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, which prohibits homicide defendants from using panic brought on by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a defense. Nine other states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – have already taken similar measures.
At this point in time, it would be naïve to assume that LGBTQ+ people enjoy a degree of safety equal to that enjoyed by the larger community. But I also feel fortunate to live in an area where many of our neighbors and legislators are supportive of LGBTQIA people.