Last week the GOP-dominated state legislature in North Carolina passed a bigoted pro-discrimination law that not only bans transgender persons from using public restrooms appropriate to their gender identities, but goes a step farther to prohibit municipal governments from enacting anti-discrimination measures protecting LGBT rights, according to the New York Times.
The session, which was abruptly convened by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, came in response to an antidiscrimination ordinance approved by the state’s largest city, Charlotte, last month. That ordinance provided protections based on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, including letting transgender people use the public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, not gender at birth.
The state bill, put together so quickly that many lawmakers had not seen it before it was introduced Wednesday morning, specifically bars people in North Carolina from using bathrooms that do not match their birth gender, and goes further to prohibit municipalities from creating their own antidiscrimination policies.
Sarah Preston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union branch in North Carolina, criticized the new law, saying, “they crafted a bill that was more extreme than others. They specifically left gays, lesbians and the transgender community out of the antidiscrimination policy. They want to make it plain that they think that kind of discrimination is O.K.”
Many bigots in the state cheered passage of the law and blithely threatened physical violence against any transgender woman attempting to enter into a public restroom reserved for women. Never mind that in order to enforce this bill, they would be hanging around outside women’s restrooms like perverts demanding that ladies disrobe or submit to inappropriate groping to verify their sex if they don’t meet a narrow-minded criterion for looking feminine enough to pass muster — which, by the way, a surprising number of transgender women actually do. So right there presents a rather obvious problem, namely, that women who were born female will probably come under sexual assault from males under the pretense of verifying their gender.
And then there’s the other side of the transgender coin.
Far from preventing men from entering into women’s restrooms and vice versa, the state’s Republican legislature and governor actually want people who identify as male using women’s restrooms, in order to create a situation in which even more and harsher discrimination may be justified. Case in point: transgender men who appear indistinguishable from their biologically male counterparts. Michael Hughes is one such man. Born female, he had sex reassignment surgery and now sports a beard and dresses according to his gender. Forced under the new law to use women’s restrooms, he took pictures of himself to demonstrate the awkwardness generated by the discriminatory legislation.
Consider the danger inherent in making transgender men use women’s restrooms: A biological male can now enter under the ruse of having been born female and enter a women’s restroom to commit the very act of sexual assault right-wing extremists claim they are trying to prevent.
So this law, which is unconstitutional on its face and is already being challenged in court, as it should be, isn’t about protecting women from predatory males. It’s about subjecting transgender persons to increased harassment and violence simply because they exist. But given the unlikelihood of a majority opinion this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s unknown if the law will be voided any time soon — especially since Obama has nominated yet another right-wing motherfucker to replace the late and unlamented Antonin Scalia.
What’s interesting, though, is that the very same corporations now denouncing the discrimination law in North Carolina all give money to the very politicians who created and passed it. Then again, considering that also tacked onto the law is an amendment barring municipalities from raising their minimum wages higher than the state minimum wage, in another ‘fuck you’ to North Carolina citizens, their stated opposition may only be empty bluster for P.R. purposes.
At any rate, I sincerely hope this and other discrimination laws are struck down in their entirety. No one should have to be subjected to harassment, violence, and intimidation simply because small-minded bigots can’t be bothered to grow up.
UPDATE: 29 March, 2016
North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper says he isn’t going to defend the new anti-transgender law in court.
“We should not be here today, but we are,” said Cooper, who characterized House Bill 2 as discriminatory.
Cooper made the announcement a day after gay rights advocates sued the state to seek to overturn the law. The federal lawsuit lists Cooper among the defendants because of his official position, but he opposes the law and wants it repealed.
Cooper, who plans to challenge right-wing extremist incumbent Pat McCrory for governor of North Carolina in this year’s election cycle, pointed to the highly discriminatory nature of the law, arguing that it unfairly targets transgender persons, infringes on municipal autonomy, and also goes too far in suppressing wages within the state. McCrory, for his part, lied about the nature and scope of the discriminatory legislation he enthusiastically signed, claiming—falsely—that it did not change local anti-discrimination laws. Of course, the law was written in part to overturn just such a local anti-discrimination law, so his lie was a rather pathetic attempt to distort the facts, something he falsely accused opponents of doing.
When even the state’s own attorney general refuses to defend a pro-bigot law that infringes on civil liberties, that’s a sign that the whole exercise was a waste of taxpayer time and money. North Carolina legislators who pushed this abomination through ought to do what they call on Cooper to do and resign. They are unfit to hold public office.