It’s been over a month since House Bill 2 was passed in North Carolina, and if you haven’t already figured it out, it’s outrageously discriminatory. But other than its blunt discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans people, the talk that surrounds it is what is truly emblematic of the United State’s distorted view of transgender people.
The passing of the bill by North Carolina republican senators and Governor Pat McCrory was in direct response to a bill that was supposed to be passed by the Charlotte City Council meant to ban LGBTQ+ discrimination. HB2 was then rushed to be signed and passed, taking less than 10 hours to do so.
McCory stated to the public that the bill was meant to protect the “privacy and safety of all men, women and children of all ages in North Carolina” (Via Buzzfeed News).
In another statement, McCrory said “The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps.” (via New York Times)
Thus… HB2 was passed, requiring that people use restrooms and locker rooms strictly based on the sex listed on their birth certificate.
House Bill 2 is inarguably directed at transgender people, but for what? The argument that is seemingly being made by governor Pat McCrory is that it is supposedly unsafe to allow people to use their preferred bathroom, non-determinate of their birth certificate. However, there are multiple issues with this logic that all seem to stem from stereotypes placed on transgender people and LGBTQ+ people alike.
First off, Governor Pat McCrory and those who passed this bill did so to protect “privacy”. But the question is whose privacy? This ideology is directly non inclusive of the privacy of transgender people and only serves the heteronormative population. It negates any privacy concerns faced by trans people by forcing them to use a bathroom or locker room that they may not feel comfortable using in order to satisfy fears based on false pretenses. Therefore, basic rights are ‘jeopardized’ for the sake of giving into stereotypes.
In addition to the privacy concern, Governor Pat McCrory is using ‘women’s’ safety as justification for passing the bill. However, Governor McCrory in the past has supported legislation that is not supportive of women’s safety at all. Just this January, he signed a bill that increased the waiting period of an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. He also voted for allowing rapists to sue their victims for getting an abortion, a law that forces women to view their ultrasound and adoption options before getting an abortion, and banning schools and doctors from providing young women with birth control information. Therefore, if Pat McCrory really supported the privacy rights of women then he would support laws that ensure that and not just using women’s rights as a scapegoat for discrimination.
The supposed reasons for passing House Bill 2 stated by both Governor McCrory and supporters directly allude to the assumption that allowing people to use their preferred restroom inevitably leads to rape, sexual assault, and even pedophilia. This alleged reason is no more than a fear mongering tactic that pushes people to accept this bill as reasonable. Passing HB2 protects nobody and can actually pose a very real threat for transgender people. According to NCAVP, trans women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence and an alarming majority of hate driven homicides, approximately 78%, were of transgender people, especially black transgender women.
By using fear mongering as a tactic to gain support for House Bill 2, two very dangerous situations can ensue. The first is that the fear generated can cause even more violence towards the transgender community in general. Extensive media coverage on how HB2 is supposedly ‘protecting’ the safety and privacy of women and children in restrooms enforces the stigma that trans people are sexual predators. Given the significantly high amount of violence already faced by trans people, this false and dangerous stereotype can put an even larger target on them. The second is that HB2 forces trans people to use the bathroom that they are not comfortable in. Trans women are already at a high risk of sexual violence, general violence, and overall harassment. By forcing them into private restrooms and locker rooms based on their birth certificate, they can be put at an even higher risk.
House Bill 2 is discriminatory and does not solve any issues, but instead satisfies prejudices held against people in the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender people. The law is much more than just trifling and poses significant threats against transgender people by perpetuating false stereotypes. Although there have been a lot of measures to protest the bill, including threats from the U.S. Department of Justice, the very real danger of transphobia still exists and there is a lot of work to be done.