by Jordan Green
The new law signed into law last night by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, which prevents city governments from protecting the rights of transgender people and others in the LGBTQ community is utterly wicked.
To knowingly place transgender people in a dangerous situation by forcing them to use a bathroom not consistent with their gender identity is beyond comprehension. But that’s exactly what the new law does by requiring that public agencies “require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex,” with biological sex defined as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.”
If you are yourself not trans or don’t have a close friend or family member who is, you may not understand. Imagine that you are a trans woman whose appearance, voice and gait indicate being female but your birth certificate identifies you as male. Now, imagine that you are forced to use a public bathroom where you encounter men who will be wondering what a woman is doing there, and you become fearful of physical assault should they suspect or discover that you are a trans person. Or imagine that in every way your appearance is male although your birth certificate identifies you as female, and you try to use the women’s room. How would you expect to be received?
McCrory and the lawmakers who pushed through this oppressive legislation have diabolically accused the victims of this bad law of the very thing that they are themselves enabling. Expressing concerns to the two Republican council members before the Charlotte City Council passed its ordinance to protect the right of transgender people to use the bathroom of their preference, McCrory wrote, “This shift in policy could also create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy.”
There are absolutely no credible reports of trans people — or, for that matter, devious men posing as females — attacking women and children in public bathrooms. To the contrary, trans people are far more likely to be the victims of violence, with the US Justice Department reporting that one in two transgender people are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. North Carolina’s new Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act is bullying and endangering an already vulnerable population by cynically exploiting public fear for political gain.
In addition to their misplaced concern about public safety, McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore and others, have expressed concerns about privacy. And again, just as their ill-conceived law is jeopardizing the public safety of trans people, they are also violating their privacy. The fact is that when a trans woman goes into a bathroom stall, in all likelihood no one is going to see what’s between her legs. And it’s no one else’s business. In fact, trans people use the bathrooms of their gender preference every day and pass unnoticed.
This disgusting law forces trans people to choose between using a bathroom where they’re likely to face harassment or one where they’re liable to have the police called on them or be ordered off the premises. It essentially criminalizes and stigmatizes the very being of trans people. It’s wrong, and the elected officials who did this know better. They know they’re hurting trans people. They know they’re exploiting unfounded fears for political gain.
For anyone born after 1975, government that fails to respond to needs or does so with half measures is almost an expectation. But for the past six years, state government in Raleigh has been acting mainly to harm us, from overturning Greensboro’s proactive rental housing inspection program RUCO to stoking xenophobia through a loophole-ridden law that was supposed to prevent police from accepting community IDs from undocumented immigrants. Like Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, these are examples of the state intervening to prevent cities from taking action to improve people’s lives. To top it off, the so-called Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act includes a rider prohibiting cities from requiring that contractors pay employees more than minimum wage. This comes at a time when Winston-Salem, High Point and Greensboro are all wrestling with how to alleviate poverty. Our state representatives have elected to take away a tool that might make a real difference.
We don’t have representative government. Those of us who live in North Carolina’s cities and hold progressive values have been squeezed into Democratic-leaning districts that don’t have a voice in Raleigh. If the Republican lawmakers who jam this trash down our throats are bold enough to stand behind their actions, they should allow a nonpartisan redistricting committee — or better yet, a computer — to redraw the electoral maps, and then face us at the polls.
Luckily for us, at least one of the perpetrators of this travesty can’t hide in a partisan gerrymandered voting district. Gov. McCrory, who has to run statewide, will be hearing from us in November.
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