Last week, North Carolina passed some truly appalling legislation, in a move some are calling one of the worst anti-LGBTQ laws in the United States. Every county or city anti-discrimination law regarding the LGBTQ community was overturned, meaning that it is now perfectly legal to discriminate against members of that community. In addition, it forces trans people who work in or visit schools and other government buildings to use the bathroom that is associated with their gender as set out on their birth certificate.
The new laws raise a few questions of mere practicality - are trans people now expected to carry their birth certificates around with them at all times? Are there going to be bathroom police in charge of checking this information? What if a trans person doesn't have his or her birth certificate on them at the time? Are they no longer allowed to use the bathroom?
North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, a Republican, took to social media to defend the bill. He said that "ordinance defied common sense, allowing men to use women's bathroom/locker room for instance. That's why I signed bipartisan bill to stop it".
As of this writing, a federal lawsuit was filed against McCrory and other state officials including the state Attorney General Roy Cooper III, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, and board Chariman W. Louis Bissette Jr. regarding the law. The suit calls the law, House Bill 2, unconstitutional and in direct opposition of federal laws regarding sex-based discrimination. It's worth noting that the General Assembly went into a special session, which is rare, in order to push the bill through and have it passed. House speaker Tim Moore, who is not named in the suit, said that the bill was rushed through because "we were concerned. Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy".
Twitter user James P. Sheffield, a trans man, also took to social media to discuss the new law.https://twitter.com/JayShef/status/712845760287494144
Another Twitter user pointed out one key flaw in the rationality behind the law:https://twitter.com/DiracDrynx/status/713214346348871680
She also let McCrory know how the law will affect him directly:https://twitter.com/DiracDrynx/status/713031596098584578
A recent Rolling Stone article points out some very important facts that seem to be completely lost on politicians who are in a rush to police bathrooms in the guise of public safety: there have been absolutely no cases in the United States in which a trans person committed assault in a bathroom. In fact, allowing trans people to use the washroom associated with their gender identity does not make it legal to commit any type of assault or sex crime. Those things are still illegal. Building this type of straw man argument does have real consequences for trans people - 70 percent report harassment and assault while trying to simply pee in peace. It seems that the real crimes happen against trans people, so why not make that illegal?
Perhaps it's time for politicians across the United States to examine issues that actually affect their citizens, rather than pushing through laws meant to restrict liberties and freedoms. Last Week Tonight brilliantly covered this exact topic nearly a year ago, and it's depressing to see how little has changed and how much has, in fact, gotten worse.