North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is based on fear and lies

Cas Sweeney ’19
Assistant Layout Editor

On March 23, North Carolina’s governor signed into law an anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2, that forbids transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond to the gender written on their legal documents. The law also restricts local governments from making non-discrimination laws designed to protect all LGBT people and repeals all such laws currently in effect.

The bill was pushed through the system just after Charlotte, N.C. expanded their non-discrimination laws to include gender identity and sexual orientation, with a specific clause allowing transgender people to choose which public bathrooms and lockers they use.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore defended House Bill 2. “Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy,” he said.

However, transgender people in the state had much to say in response. Madeleine Gauss, a transgender woman living in Raleigh, N.C., said, “I was bullied and tortured and beaten mercilessly there, and where did it happen? It happened in the men’s room. This place is a place of danger for people like me. I can’t use the men’s room. I won’t go back to the men’s room. It is unsafe for me there. People like me die there.”

Both sides of the issue claim to be worried about privacy and safety in bathrooms. However, history shows that the supporters of the bill are not the ones who have reason to be concerned. There have been zero reported cases of transgender people or people pretending to be transgender assaulting others in public bathrooms in the United States.

On the other hand, transgender people face not only discrimination but violence. Every 29 hours a transgender person is murdered in the United States, and most of them are women of color. More transgender people were killed in 2015 than any other year on record.

There was little opportunity for protest before the bill was signed into law. The contents of the bill were only released a few minutes before the assembly’s session began. There was speculation about the bill beforehand, but it was more far- reaching than most people expected.

Once the law was passed, protests immediately began. Many LGBT activists have responded condemning the law. Laverne Cox tweeted, “Stay strong. This law is clearly unconstitutional and will not survive a court challenge. Let’s let this mobilize us.”

Many businesses, such as Disney, Facebook and Uber, have considered moving elsewhere. A letter signed by many large businesses said the law “will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the nation.”

Legally, the law is also facing push back. If schools violate Title IX of the Education Amendments, which bans discrimination against transgender students, in the process of enforcing this law, they could lose their federal funding. The Obama Administration is currently reviewing the law to determine if it is unconstitutional.

The social, political and economic backlash against the law implies that it will have a hard time staying in place. However the fact that the law passed in the first place gives us a concerning look into more than the opinions of N.C.

I have heard many reactions to the law on social media and on campus, and while the reactions were negative, there was a disturbing theme. Many people acted under the impression that N.C’s law is an isolated incident. The condemnation of N.C. ignores the fact that the ones victimized by the law are also people that live there. North Carolina is both causing and receiving the pain this law creates.

This reaction also allows people to ignore the problems on our own campus. The fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender, and the fear and panic that follows, is what allowed the law to be passed. It is also a misconception that many Smith students express. People believe that transgender people will appear out of place and easy to recognize, leading to the assumptions students and teachers make about other student’s genders. Smith student’s lack of knowledge about non- binary trans people leads to the oversimplification of trans issues on campus. People believe that trans women have an agenda to invade cis women’s spaces, an argument which was featured prominently in Smith’s reluctance to admit trans women to the college.

We are not a campus free from transphobia. To pretend we are limits the amount of change we can create. Instead of separating yourself from what happened in N.C., reflect and decide what we can do to stop something similar from happening here.

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