Columns, Opinion

RENNER: North Carolina’s anti-trans restroom law only discriminates

On Wednesday, North Carolina legislators passed a bill on public restroom usage. The bill requires transgender people to use the restroom assigned to the gender that matches the one on their birth certificate, with no exceptions. Despite how intrusive and gross this is, it’s also insanely stupid.

According to The New York Times, the bill was passed by a purely Republican Senate after all of the Democratic senators had walked out in protest. The Senate’s Democratic leader, Dan Blue, said called it “a direct affront to equality, civil rights and local autonomy.” The bill was ultimately signed by North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory later that day.

Last month, Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, passed an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the rights of transgender people, including their right to enter into a door marked “W” to match a recent gender reassignment surgery, or “M” for the decades of hormone supplements. The North Carolina Senate is now biting back with its most recent bill, which specifically states that municipalities cannot create their own anti-discrimination rules to block this potential counter.

The Republican-penned bill was “put together so quickly that many lawmakers had not seen it before it was introduced Wednesday morning,” according to the Times. Its signing took place in a meeting called abruptly on that very same day.

Although the bill is said to focus on anti-discrimination, it not only discriminates against transgender people but also fails to even acknowledge their existence by not referring to them as “transgender” at all. The bill simply calls for all people to use the bathroom assigned to them at birth, as if public toilet usage is debate on par with heredity or custody rights.

The ludicrousness of this bill is hard for any levelheaded person to comprehend, so the transgender community took to social media to get its voice heard. A transgender man named James Sheffield tweeted at McCrory, “it’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife.” Attached to the tweet was a photo of Sheffield sporting an army-print baseball cap atop a short haircut, a defined jawline and a thick beard. Other users followed suit. Many more transgender people responded to Sheffield with a “me too” and a photo displaying their obvious masculine or feminine traits attached. One woman tweeted out her photo saying that it’s now the law for her to use the bathroom with the governor himself.

North Carolina is facing backlash from countless other media outlets and organizations as well. According to The Atlantic, companies such as IBM, American Airlines, PayPal and Apple have all voiced their opposition to North Carolina’s bill. The NBA even suggested a change of location for its 2017 All-Star Game, set to take place in Charlotte.

In the midst of a wild presidential election in which, much to the horror of North Carolinian Democrats, Republican candidate Donald Trump surfaced as the state’s GOP primary winner, it’s refreshing and hopeful to see people who are willing to speak out against grotesque injustice. If there is a single positive light to this bill’s passing, it is this: The attention and support against this bill is much needed.

Though most anyone who hears of it will immediately have a gut reaction to the bill’s absurdity, there are people out there who wholeheartedly believe that it is okay to directly discriminate against transgender people. To unite in solidarity, and be willing to speak out as a mass against this ridiculousness is what it’s going to take to get it out of here. Everyone deserves to use the restroom, for God’s sake.

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One Comment

  1. Something else I read–this is part of a larger trend where liberal cities pass such measures, only for state legislatures to override their actions (NC also forbade Charlotte to raise the minimum wage). I wonder if this’ll end up before the Supreme Court. It’s been relatively unusual thus far for states to override cities in this manner, and I sense that many activists on both sides might turn to fights like these as long as Congress doesn’t pass much.