Last month, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, according to the New York Times. The new law requires people to use bathrooms of the sex listed on their birth certificates, effectively preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity. The law also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from a list of categories protected from housing and public accommodations discrimination.
The bill was met with public condemnation, petitions, ongoing protests, and legislative resistance. North Carolina's attorney general, Roy Cooper, called HB2 a "national embarrassment" and refused to defend the law, according to ABC 11. North Carolina's Democratic lawmakers seek to repeal House Bill 2 through a bill submitted earlier today, according to ABC 11.
The economic impact of House Bill 2 will no doubt be immense and negative. Businesses have slammed House Bill 2 as discriminatory and/or abandoned business endeavors in North Carolina to show their disapproval. Musicians, studios, and sports leaders have refused to perform in North Carolina or warned that they will take events elsewhere until the legislation is lifted. House Bill 2 won't make North Carolina safer, but it will make the state poor and boring.
House Bill 2 as well as similar bills proposed in South Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, Illinois, and Kansas have triggered outrage from the LGBTQ community and its allies, who argue that such "bathroom bills" are a form of transphobic discrimination. Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina have filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.
Some voices from the Religious Right are defending bathroom bills as a means of protecting women and children from supposedly predatory transgender people. Over and over, their rhetoric reinforces the same ugly stereotypes of transgender people as predators, deviants, and men-in-drag. According to ABC News, presidential candidate Ted Cruz claimed that without bathroom bills, "you're opening the door for predators." The Washington Blade reports that Cruz recently released a video ad warning that "a grown man pretending to be a woman" in women's restrooms would jeopardize the safety of women and girls.
More transphobic language in praise of bathroom bills comes from the Family Research Council. In an April 12th press release, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins scoffed at opponents of North Carolina's House Bill 2. "The Left’s response to Governor McCrory’s executive order shows it has no interest in a ‘live and let live’ policy, and could care less about the commonsense privacy concerns of parents and families throughout North Carolina, even when it comes to the question of letting grown men use women’s bathrooms and locker rooms," he wrote.
In an April 15th commentary piece at the Blaze, Mario Diaz, legal counsel for Concerned Women for America, insisted that bathroom bills were not discriminatory. "Any reasonable person can see that there is nothing discriminatory about asking men to use the men’s room and women to use the lady’s room," he wrote. "A policy that allows men to decide what facilities to use based on how they feel in their minds opens the door for easy abuse by vicious predators," he claimed, demonizing transgender people as sexual deviants.
North Carolina Family Policy Council (an affiliate of Focus on the Family's CitizenLink, according to Political Research Associates) disparaged critics of HB2 as people who want to "impose a radical social policy of unbridled sexual license" in an April 19th blog post.
"Opponents of House Bill 2 are mad that the Charlotte City Council was rebuked for its overreach of legal authority. They are mad that HB 2 preempts their efforts to open public bathrooms and showers to individuals of either sex. And they are mad that House Bill 2 curtailed their efforts to impose a radical social policy of unbridled sexual license on our state. The hateful rhetoric is simply a temper tantrum gone mad. Unfortunately, the media is propagating the smear campaign, and many levelheaded citizens have been confused and misled by it."House Bill 2 and other bathroom bills were likely intended to instill fear of transgender persons in ordinary citizens, and thereby unite right-wing voters against a common enemy. However, people are increasingly rejecting the ugly stereotypes about transgender people that drive these fears, as it becomes clear that transgender persons are not deviant monsters. Right-wing lawmakers and activists did not expect a backlash of this magnitude, and will have intense fights ahead of them as businesses, entertainers, advocates, and level-headed citizens challenge their bathroom bills.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Mother Jones: We Tracked Down the Lawyers Behind the Recent Wave of Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills
Political Research Associates: The Christian Right's Favorite New Target: North Carolina Isn't Alone
Think Progress: The Newest Opponents Of North Carolina’s Anti-Transgender Law: Faith Groups