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TWACtion: Environmental and Gender Rights Groups Occupy I-5 Billboard

From Earth First! Newswire - September 8, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Demonstrators from Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp (TWAC) and the Gender Alliance of the South Sound (GASS) have staged a dance party at a billboard along I-5 (Northbound, Exit 72). The billboard’s former advertisement was replaced with a massive banner with the message “Transgender Health, Not Fossil Fuel Wealth.”

This action intends to raise awareness about two issues of concern to Washington’s residents. The demonstrators oppose public tax dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and the increase in oil and coal train traffic in many neighborhoods. The public would bear the largest portion of the cost of any railroad improvements to accommodate the coal and oil trains. The protesters also wish to draw attention to the fact that the investment in fossil fuels comes at the expense of the basic needs of citizens such as affordable healthcare. In particular, transgender citizens in Washington are commonly denied health coverage for medically necessary drugs, therapy, and procedures.

“Fossil fuel companies plan to turn our rails into coal and oil corridors, putting local communities and the global climate at risk,” stated TWAC spokesperson Eva Jones. “These industries are banking on taxpayers paying for better rails and training for emergency responders. This is an unacceptable funneling of limited state funds away from real public services like affordable healthcare.”

Washington State Medicaid currently discriminates against transgender residents by denying them coverage for treatments deemed necessary by the American Medical Association. Although it would cost relatively little, Washington cities and counties do not offer their employees trans inclusive health insurance. “A society is judged by the way it treats its members most in need. Transgender people have been forced to remain hidden and anonymous which results in tremendous mental, physical, and emotional damage. Transgender people deserve their basic healthcare needs to be met,” says Rikki Dean, member of GASS.

This protest concludes the annual Trans and/or Women’s Action camp, a camp for environmental and gender justice activists. This spectacle joins numerous actions that have taken place this summer against fossil fuel infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.

Trans and/or Women’s Action Camp

Gender Alliance of the South Sound

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