On Thursday, March 24, North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, signed House Bill 2 (HB2) into effect. This bill has a few different components to it – the part where it restricts who uses what bathroom, solidified minimum wage, and the part where it states that anti-discriminatory laws are no longer allowed to be passed. The law has been queueing up people who’ve broken the law since April 1, when it was put into effect. The nation is in outrage, and international citizens are publicly announcing their dislike as well.
After McCrory signed the law, he met with a group of LGBT+ advocates, including a trans woman of color, Candis Cox-Daniels. The governor’s mind still hasn’t been changed in any way. Trans people have spoken out, stating that there are dangers to being forced out because a male-presenting person has to walk into the female bathroom. And the fact that the law bans any and all new anti-discriminatory laws from being passed, this won’t change until HB2 is revoked.
The backlash for this law has been huge – hundreds of national companies have restricted their work with North Carolina to emergency or extreme situations, if that, and a few states and cities have banned government-funded trips to the state. Even theater composer Stephen Schwartz is denying North Carolina theaters the ability to produce shows such as “Wicked,” “Pippin,” “Godspell,” and “Children of Eden,” as long as HB2 is enforced and in the books, all of this according to Thinkprogress. A $20 million medical research and production facility has held off on being built in the state due to the law. The North Carolina economy is already starting to collapse under this sudden supreme lack of funding, but the people who signed and agreed to this law won’t be easy to fight against, due to the fact that their transphobia is so extreme that they approve a law like this.
HB2 is far from the progressive course America is seemingly taking. North Carolina is a state notorious for being conservative, but this is a line that really shows the state’s leaders’ true colors. By forcing trans people to enter the bathroom that’s stated on their birth certificate, then trans people are forced out. That could lead to violence against them. The law does state there can be single-person bathrooms, but those aren’t going to be readily available.
Many people are concerned with the idea of child molesters or rapists being in opposite-gender bathrooms. That is understandable. However, being a trans woman is different from sexually assaulting someone, then saying that it was because you’re a trans woman. Your gender is not an excuse for assault, nor is it a reasoning for a crime you commit. Just because you’re a trans man, doesn’t mean you get to assault people in a bathroom. Even in states where this isn’t a law, there aren’t men in every girl’s bathroom, or women leaning against a wall, watching the men in the urinals or something. If that happened, it would be sexual harassment, not a trans person in a bathroom. Trans people just want to use a bathroom that corresponds with how they identify. Even then, there’s no laws saying gay people have to use their own bathroom to prevent assault of others. It’s sexual harassment to make anyone uncomfortable in a sexual way, no matter if you’ve had gender reassignment surgery or identify as cisgender.
Another concern is someone being trans having access to the other bathroom, and being able to invade personal privacy under the pretense of gender. However, what does one expect happens in a bathroom? The most you’re going to get is a girl reapplying her makeup, or a boy awkwardly leaning away from you while using a urinal. People who use public bathrooms generally agree there’s going to be a level of privacy invaded by two people pooping within 10 feet of each other. Access from people willing to use the bathrooms for harmful reasons happens from either gender. Humans can be bad, and it doesn’t matter what genitals you have.
Not only does HB2 include a decent amount of transphobia, but the law restricts the minimum wage and solidifies it. At $7.25 an hour, that isn’t enough to live on. Companies now can’t choose what they put minimum wage at, no matter how much they want to increase it. This is quite different from California, which just passed a bill that increases minimum wage to $15 an hour, slowly phasing out the smaller national wage of $7.25 and fulfilling the requirements in several years. Talk to anyone living on the national minimum wage, and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to survive when for four hours of working, you still don’t even have $30.
This law is one of the most discriminatory laws we’ve seen in a decent amount of time. And just recently, the last state allowed same-sex couples to adopt children. With Mississippi also on the verge of approving a powerfully transphobic and homophobic bill, it seems that a great many states have moved a few steps forward, but others have taken a great many steps back. As time goes on, the trans and LGBT+ communities have to hope that their voices are heard, and their allies can support them until acceptance is not radical, but expected.