“I’ve been sexually assaulted, physically attacked, felt unsafe in my own house, and nearly killed myself because I’m transgender. Now I’m not saying that its the same struggle as racism. But what I will say is that if people are intentionally ignorant you can’t fight them with words. Sometims you have to fight back. Or scream. And you know what. That’s life. Despite the lies you may have been told no one won their rights by asking for them nicely. People fought for them. So ya I’m sorry if what I said may “offend” a few white people, but I’m going to fuking say it anyways.”
—Adam Snowflake, Transgender author
On Wednesday, March 23, the State of North Carolina’s General Assembly meet in Raleigh for a special session. That “special session” turns out to be one that greatly affects members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer, and agender community. One involving Republican Governor Pat McCrory signing into law the most pro-discriminatory bill within 30 minutes.
The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, known as House Bill 2, completely overturns Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ban that includes those protecting the GLBTIQA community—especially those identifying as transgender. Under this oppressive law, transfolks are now prohibited to use restrooms based on the gender with which they identify. They instead are forced to enter the restrooms based on the gender printed on their birth certificate. K-12 schools are no longer obligated to offer or even add gender neutral bathrooms.
For obvious reasons, there is so much wrong with this bill and the process it took to pass it. The special session cost taxpayers $42,000 just so the House could hastily push it through. Every Republican backed the bill, stating that the Charlotte’s updated ordinance violated religious freedom and the safety of straight woman who have to share bathroom with transpeople (so apparently only straight women are in danger when using the bathrooms). Even after the ordinances are updated back in February in Charlotte, the GOP are very vocal about shutting down the laws before April 1.
But it doesn’t take much thought (or at least it shouldn’t) to recognize that House Bill 2 is targeting the transgender community. From day one, there has been the issue among all the Republican and some Democrats about transpeople using bathrooms that corresponds with the gender they identify with. For whatever reason, that topic has been the main focus of this bill and prompts members of both parties to undermine the state’s law. But House Bill 2 goes beyond bathroom politics pertaining to transpeople. It indeed causes more harm by doing the following:
1) It propagates misinformation regarding transpeople and sexual violence.
There are no reports or empirical data supporting even a shred of evidence linking sexual predatory behavior to being trans or of trans individuals victimizing children or women. On the contrary, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known by the child victim that isn’t a family member (i.e. babysitter, coach, neighbor). Furthermore, thirty percent (30%) of perpetrators are family members while 10% are completely unknown to the child.
In regards to women, they are more likely to be victimized by their intimate partner. Young girls are often raped or molested by someone they either know or have developed a relationship with. There are no reports from them indicating that transpeople are out here searching for female victims. Even if the girl or woman have been victimized by a trans individual, there would more likely be an established relationship between the parties involved.
Speaking of gender identity and sexual orientation, the typical perpetrator, the majority of them not only identify as heterosexual, but have dating relationships with women. In other words, a child is more likely to be molested or sexual assaulted by a straight male they are already have a relationship with and there is no empirical data or research stating otherwise.
2) House Bill 2 perpetuates mental illness and poverty.
Because HB 2 bans the anti-discrimination laws that have been scheduled to go into effect on April 1, transpeople are now at the mercy of employers who can either terminate their trans employees or deny them employment. This may ultimately lead to poverty and/or homelessness. Since there aren’t many homeless shelters exclusively for transpeople (if no family support is available), they will more likely have to live in a shelter, where they will endure transphobia.
Transphobia and poverty are known to cause depression, anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and other mental illnesses due to no longer having the means to maintain their most basic needs such as housing and food. Many transpeople turn to sex work in order to pay for their medical needs, risking their safety and their very lives. Studies show that transgender individuals are more likely to become victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or homicide—especially if they are homeless and/or doing sex work.
In is also reported that those living in poverty have a high onset of physical health issues as well. Many transpeople not only have difficulty obtaining adequate health insurance but report facing discrimination from medical professionals. This could one of the reasons why HIV has increased among transwomen who engage in sex work. With HB 2 in effect, transpeople could be denied employment and housing and perhaps mental and medical health services as well.
3) House Bill 2 perpetuates the idea of Otherness through the politics of passing.
Going back to the bathroom topic, this idea of forcing transpeople to utilize facilities based on the gender on their birth certificate also plays into the politics of otherness. If a transperson can “pass,” then they can use bathrooms and locker rooms coinciding with the gender they identify with—regardless of whether they change the information on their birth certificate of not. However, if a transperson is unable to pass (or choose not to) for whatever reason, then they are forced to enter an environment in which they are not comfortable because they are deemed a threat to cis heterosexual social norms. And by being labeled a threat, the transperson is now an Other when they only want to be their authentic selves.
As poverty and unemployment would, otherness also places transpeople at a disadvantage by increasing their risk of being sexual, emotionally, physically, and spiritually violated—especially if they have not fully transitioned (or choose not to). This is all because of a law passed on the erroneous propaganda that transpeople are sexual predators when all they wish to do enter, use, and exit the bathroom with impunity.
Despite House Bill 2 being passed so quickly, this move may have been a huge detriment finanically. The bill is deemed unconstitutional and major businesses are already boycotting the state’s oppressive law. Corporations have been put on pause because the bill now jeopardizes employment and economic growth in the state of North Carolina–unless they withdraw HB 2.
Regardless of the decisions these businesses and corporations come to, the pressing issue is the fact that the lives of transpeople in North Carolina are in mortal danger. With that being said, we must stand in solidarity with our trans siblings not only in North Carolina but those struggling around the globe. We must be ready to fight alongside them by any means necessary. And we must let members of the two party system realize that this type of discrimination is completely unacceptable because, if you’re paying attention, you know it is.