If you haven’t heard what’s going on in North Carolina yet, get your torches and pitchforks ready, because it’s a dooooooozy.
It all began when the city of Charlotte, NC passed an anti-discrimination ordinance, set to go into effect on April 1st, that would include “sexual orientation and gender identity” under the umbrella of the city’s anti-discrimination law. Specifically, the anti-discrimination bill would allow transgender folks to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Sounds great! Ya with me so far? Good.
In response to this, the state House of Representative introduced a House Bill 2, or as it is known today (insert ominous thunderclap) HB2! The HB2 would invalidate Charlotte’s new ordinance – oh, AND the ordinances of NINE OTHER localities in North Carolina who passed similar legislation to protect LGBT citizens. The HB2 would replace the language in anti-discrimination laws across the state, making it illegal to discriminate based on “race, religion, color, national origin, or biological sex.” That “biological sex” part is new, and refers to a person’s sex as written on their birth certificate. This is a direct slap in the face to transgender citizens of North Carolina. Sadly, though, this kind of flagrant transphobia in state legislation is nothing new.
HB2 was signed into law by North Carolina’s governor Pat McCrory late last night. This would be bad enough, if he didn’t issue a statement at the same time, making sure to clarify – in case you weren’t certain – exactly whom this overtly transphobic bill was intended to hurt. He spoke of the Charlotte ordinance and said, "This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman's bathroom, shower or locker room...As a result, I have signed legislation passed by a bipartisan majority to stop this breach of basic privacy and etiquette which was to go into effect April 1."
Okay, yeah, but don’t put your barf bags away yet, because other states are taking notice of this bill and have decided to pass similar restrictions. Kansas, for example, is so obsessed with where students go to pee. In the 11th hour of the Kansas legislation session, a pair of bills were introduced (SB 513 and HB 2737) called the “Student Physical Privacy Act” prohibiting transgender students in all public schools and public universities across the state from using the restroom that matches their gender. The act seeks to define a persons sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes, and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” So I guess if students need to pee in Kansas, they’re gonna need a hall pass and a copy of their birth certificate? Yeah, I’m sure Kansas schools can spare the manpower to check every student’s genitals personally before allowing them to use the restroom.
Oh wait – don’t worry, they’ve got that covered. The bill stipulates that any student who catches someone “of the opposite sex” (their words, not mine) in the bathroom they’re using, they can sue the school for “monetary damages for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered as a result of a violation” to the tune of $2,500. Bathroom bounty hunting? Are you for serious, Kansas?
This is definitely going to hurt the state universities, who already have policies of non-discrimination based on gender identity. But much in the way that the North Carolina law invalidates the wishes of the smaller localities under their governance, the Kansas Student Physical Privacy Act will likely declare these existing policies void. If there ever was a time to ride a tornado out of Kansas, it looks like this is it.
Both states are riding a wave of bigotry to push through discriminatory legislation founded on that have no factual basis in reality. They are playing into the hands of constituents who harp on “safety concerns,” in ignorance of the fact that the unsafe conditions they fear are a daily reality for the very transgender people they seek to discriminate against.
Top image: Flickr/mrkathika
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Meghan Sara is a tour guide for Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tours. She is open-minded about everything, but intolerant to gluten. She blogs at meghansara.com, is a regular contributor to Femnasty, and tweets her feelings @MeghanSaraK.