Photo: Robert Willett firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past several years, various state governments have attempted to impose restrictions on transgender people’s use of bathrooms – Kentucky, Texas, North Dakota, Georgia, and North Carolina all come to mind. In the best cases, they demand that separate facilities be built for transgender people. In the worst cases, they force transgender people to go to the bathroom of their birth sex. The reason? Because they fear that someone will claim they’re transgender in order to go into a women’s bathroom and assault someone – though this has never happened.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, this is ridiculous. Transgender people are far more likely to be assaulted than cisgender people. Transgender people go into bathrooms simply to go to the bathroom. Forcing someone into the bathroom of their birth sex is discriminatory, over-regulatory, and a violation of a person’s rights. And fortunately, South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard agreed and refused to sign the bill. Way to go, Governor Daugaard, way to go.
Unfortunately, the governor of North Carolina is not so admirable. This past Wednesday, Republican lawmakers fast-tracked House Bill 2 through the House and Senate and onto the Governor’s desk where it was signed into law less than 12 hours after it had been proposed. They also scheduled a special session to do so, meaning that very few members of the public were aware of what was happening until it had already been signed into law. Why? Because they wanted it to circumvent another law that would go in place on April 1.
House Bill 2, which you can read in its entire legalese here, covers two important points: 1) it declares that state law supersedes all local ordinances concerning wages, employment, and public accommodations, and 2) it requires all public schools and colleges and government agencies to designate their bathrooms for use according to one’s biological sex. This means that even if cities want to pass transgender inclusion laws or sexual orientation equality laws, they can’t. It also means that cities may not individually raise their minimum wage or provide accommodations for disabled people in the workplace – unless the state passes a law first.
What makes this even worse (somehow) is that this law was passed explicitly to circumvent an anti-discrimination ordinance that the city of Charlotte had just approved. Yes, you read that right: Republican lawmakers were so concerned that queer and transgender people would get equal rights that they threw together a bill, cost the taxpayers $42,000 in a special session, and denied citizens their right to know about legislation.
Oh, and these 12 North Carolina Democrats also voted for the bill – because bigotry actually can cross the aisle.
Unfortunately, since the bill was already signed into law, it will be much harder to repeal it. The ACLU is already working to fight it legally, but there are a few things we can do. If you click here, you can go to a Bustle article showing you the petition to sign, the hashtag to use, and how to vote these politicians out of office. However, if you want to take a more direct approach, I would click here to go to the North Carolina state government page. The contact tab will help you find lawmakers. If you don’t want to go through that effort, though, I’d also suggest you contact North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the guy who actually signed HB2 into law. Here is his web site, here is his email, here is his Facebook page, and here is his Twitter. If you want to call his office directly, it’s 919-814-2000. Give him hell, guys, he deserves it.