Everything started at the beginning of the year. A homeless trans woman, Jessie Doe, was twice denied a place in the women's shelter.
The first time, the center mentioned her alcoholism. There is nothing to complain about, it is part of their policy. However, the next day, Jessie was denied access again. She filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission that hasn't made a decision yet.
In March, residents of Anchorage approved the inclusion of trans people in the city's non-discrimination order. A very nice victory for the transgender community of Alaska.
After the vote, a lawyer representing Soup Kitchen Hope Center told a local newspaper that no trans woman would be welcomed in the center. As it goes against the newly approved law, the city has filed a complaint against the center too.
The city considers the center a public accommodation, although it claims not to be. Soup Kitchen Hope Center is run by a Christian organization, which claims that the ordinance violates their rights to religious freedom.
“What they are doing is trying to use their own purported religious beliefs to impose them on others and kick LGBT people out from spaces, from schools, from bakeries and apparently in now in Anchorage, also from shelters," David Dinielli, deputy legal director for civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center, told local news station KTUU. “In our most vulnerable moments, they think that their right to hate should trump our right to live. This is not the Alaska way. This is not the Anchorage way.”
“There is simply no evidence that transgender people are more of a threat to anyone, whether that be in bathrooms, locker rooms, or homeless shelters,” he added.“In fact, we know transgender people are among the most, if not the most likely to be targeted for abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse.”
Soup Kitchen Hope Center has decided to discriminate against transgender people in Anchorage. It remains to be seen whether the court will be in favor of this discrimination or not.