After slinging false accusations at opponents of HB2, today NC Governor, Pat McCrory tried to pretend-walk-back his signature on HB2, the ill-conceived and unconstitutional law specifically discriminating against transgendered persons. The law also barred localities from enacting any anti-discriminatory policies more “generous” (i.e., more humane) than the state’s. HB2 repealed all local anti-discriminatory ordinances, barred localities from ever enacting them again and forbade suing over discrimination in NC. And in the final blow, the legislation said local minimum wage and benefit ordinances could not better the state minimums. HB2 was about all of these things. But it was essentially about hate.
McCrory’s gutless signing of HB2 is not undone by this whoops, we goofed, big-time, executive order. That’s not how it works. It will take legislative repeal or the courts to strike it down. And as Indy Week noted, it’s funny how GOPhers oppose executive orders except when they do them. Thanks, Pat for nothing. Note he didn’t retract his signature of the original bill, which he eagerly rushed to sign. But the GA has the votes to override him anyway. First we will look at the evil done by him and the GA originally. Then we will look a little more at his attempt to undo the mess.
The GA Legislative Mess
First, let’s illustrate the bind HB2 caused for transgendered persons. For example, let us consider a male-to-female transgendered woman, who has a partial (psychological and hormonal) transition (but hasn’t yet, or cannot, have reassignment surgery); and who is, has been for years, feels and dresses the woman that she is. So many people do not get this. But others’ failure to understand does not constitute a just reason to discriminate against our fellow citizens. To oversimplify, it is a biological fact that some individuals’ insides do not match their outsides. So to use our example again, she wishes merely the freedom of movement in this country guaranteed by the US Constitution, but now in NC she cannot consistently go to the restroom. She is in a horrendous double bind because her birth certificate might still say “male.” For a variety of reasons, women who have had reassignment surgery might have difficulty getting their birth certificates changed too. If she goes into the men’s restroom, she can be arrested (for being in the men’s bathroom while a woman), beaten or assaulted. Indeed, trans women are among the most vulnerable to assault and murder in America. But now, under HB2, she is also barred from using the ladies restroom in NC. There are no private, family restrooms in many public spaces. She could still try to use the women’s restroom, but that would be illegal, leaving her at the whim of people who might complain if they even think she might be transgendered. Many, but not all, might pass without raising suspicion. If you are a woman, you have peed next to a male-to female transgendered person and just didn’t know it. She caused you no problems and only wanted what you want, a private space to use the facilities. But if anyone suspected and complained, the woman might face criminal charges. Do you know the cost of being on a sex offender registry (for no legitimate reason)? This is a profound threat against transgendered persons.
For female-to-male transgendered persons, using the restroom of their birth could bring huge problems as well. Remember, they are, look like, dress like, feel like the men that they are. Now HB2 says these men must use the women’s restroom unless they have had gender reassignment surgery and have changed legally their birth certificates. So people who are male and don”t have new birth certificates were legislated by the GOP into using the women’s restroom. And the majority in the GA were too hateful or stupid to think this through. Thus trans men also are in a double-bind regarding what they do. They cannot win.
So the ignorant, hate-inspired lawmakers have introduced a new wrinkle they no doubt did not consider. Or did they? I suspect they are trying to restrict the movement of transgendered people in public. Those providing services have no right to restrict the use of companies licensed to serve the public. They are not private clubs.
The So-Called Fix
As noted above, the governor’s executive order does little to right what HB2 has wrought. And it does nothing specifically to remedy the restroom issues. Charlotte’s ordinance, among other things, bans businesses from singling out transgendered persons in their use of public restrooms. It is little different from that passed in cities all over America, where the legislation has worked well and without problems. But the NC GOP, ever the inventor of faux problems, false umbrage, and hot-button right-wing hysteria, would have you believe otherwise. They hope they racked up points with their bigoted, ignorant followers. Meanwhile, business owners serving only that part of the public they choose to serve should lose their licenses for refusing to serve all the public. Again, they are not private clubs. Instead, they obtain incorporations under the state and licenses from localities to operate a public business. Let us be clear. These are businesses that get things from the public: Infrastructure, tax breaks in some cases, local planning services, water and sewer, police and fire protection. If they are minimum wage employers, they take advantage of our health care, food stamp and housing assistance programs for their underpaid workers as well. Their workers come to live or remain in places where civic life is robust, where there are parks, museums, and more…all taxpayer supported. Transgendered persons pay taxes in support of all of these things. They have every right to expect that they can lawfully use a basic human service which is fundamental to free movement about our society.
And, no, Pat didn’t fix HB2. Not even close. Now the courts will untangle the mess. But, you know, the GOP has mucked around with the courts too. They hope to mess with vulnerable people there too, and maybe turn out right wing haters come November.
Americans and Fear of the Unknown
At some point Americans must take responsibility for their own ignorance. It is not up to those failing to understand nature’s creativity to question the right of others to exist. And as noted above, existing requires facilities. Restrooms are not optional. Transgendered persons have lived among us for millennia. The fact that some people were or are “uncomfortable,” is, well, too bad. And btw if people were not so un-accepting in general, they’d already clearly know that transgendered persons represent no threat to others, while cisgendered persons (non-trans folks) pose much more of a threat to them.
The Bottom Line
Transgendered persons are your family members (you just don’t know it yet), your neighbors, and fellow citizens. They have the prior right to be, to exist in this world and not be subject to harassment and repression for their mere existence. It’s time for bigots to get real about understanding the real world, treating everyone the way they want to be treated, and getting over themselves and their most fearful and bigoted inclinations.