In March, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.
HB2 is a law that has gained national attention for its anti-LGBT agenda. Musicians are cancelling shows in protest of the bill, state governments are banning work funded travel to NC, and local state schools are in jeopardy of losing billions of dollars in funding because of the law’s violation of federal protections. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about HB2, and for the citizens of North Carolina, the lack of understanding and concern from the rest of the country about the controversial law is disconcerting.
I’ve been a citizen of North Carolina my entire life and I’ve seen first hand the effects that this law is taking on the southern LGBT community. Which is why everyone, regardless of where they live, should be concerned about HB2 and it’s repercussions, from someone who is in the middle of it all.
HB2 is a law that prevents local governments from setting and implementing anti-discrimination and employment policies. This means that it is illegal for cities to expand upon any state laws already in place in regards to minimum wage, non-discrimination ordinances, and most famously, bathroom policies in regards to transgender citizens. In February, the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance that extended protection to LGBT people in places of “public accommodation.” For the trans community, this meant that they could now legally and safely use the public bathroom that correlated to their gender identity. HB2 however overrides this ordinance and now all places with public bathrooms, from shopping malls to schools, are being told to force trans identifying people to use the bathroom that correlates with the sex on their birth certificate. Yes, that means that trans people now have to carry around identification just to go to the bathroom.
It’s pretty apparent why this bill is causing so many issues.
Over the past few weeks as I’ve seen the turmoil from this hateful bill unfold, I’ve noticed that the worst part of all of it isn’t even the bill itself, but the way the bill’s existence has prompted people to treat the LGBT community. Article after article started to spill from newspapers and online magazines all over the state about how trans people were malicious predators, and that the only way to protect people from them was to keep them out of the bathrooms. It had somehow never occurred to these people that they had in fact been using the bathrooms next to trans people for years, they just didn’t know it, because shockingly, you can’t always tell that someone is trans just by looking at them. And because trans people don’t go to the bathroom to prey on women and children; they go to the bathroom so that they can go to the bathroom.
What a concept.
This bill has made me very angry, but more than anything, it has made me afraid. In my home state, the place where I was born and raised to be the proud queer woman that I am, my friends and I are not safe. We can be fired if our employers find out we’re queer and we are forced to put ourselves in physical danger every time we’re in public and have to use the bathroom. We know that if we don’t have proper identification and we’re not presenting ourselves as particularly masculine or feminine that day, that we can be denied access to public places. Our mere existence is being met with contempt by the very place that we used to call home.
Currently, North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory is being forced by the federal government to either scrap the bill or lose billions of dollars of federal funding. However, even if the law does get repealed, the fact that it ever existed and got enough support for it to be passed in the first place is enough to make the state’s queer community feel threatened.
LGBT people deserve the same rights as all other people, and NC should not be arguing over whether or not to protect and respect its citizens just because they are queer or trans. HB2 has to go, or the amount of violence, harassment, and discrimination towards the queer population in NC will only expand.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK.