In the photograph is a young man wearing a baseball cap and orange shirt. A few feet behind him, two women look at the camera with what appear to be confused stares. The setting? A women’s restroom. Most conservative-minded people hearing of this scenario would gawk at it as a product of liberal “political correctness” towards the transgender community, but the real irony is that it’s a situation they themselves have created. And the deeper implications of it beyond just this scenario are far more troubling.
The transgender man in the picture, Michael Hughes, has been staging pictures like these with his female friends as a statement against House Bill 2, the “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act”. The bill is a state government response to the city of Charlotte, which enacted an ordinance allowing trans people to use the bathroom for the gender by which they identify. House Bill 2, on the other hand, undoes this for the entire state. It declares that all people in the state of North Carolina must use the restroom for the gender marked on their birth certificate, regardless of whether they identify as that gender presently or not. It will lead to confusing and humiliating experiences for trans people and ironically will possibly create more for cisgender heterosexuals, when men like Michael are legally required to share the restrooms with girls against their own self-determination. For transgender people there is sadly no good way out of this scenario – it seems that the state wants to rally around the disgusting culture of shame that their right-wing base puts against the very existence of other people. To them even the act of using a public bathroom must come under scrutiny and paternalistic regulation.
Beyond the human rights issues which this House bill empowers, there are also very disturbing anti-democratic tendencies involved in its creation and enforcement. Though created in response to the Charlotte bathroom ordinance, the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act also imposes an undue level of state control over municipal governments – it sets a blanket definition for discrimination (based on race, color, nationality, religion, age, or birth gender) and does not allow any lower government to expand upon it. So rather than allowing other communities to democratically decide to fight discrimination on their own, now even those which want to support members of the transgender community cannot do so under the terms of this new law. The bill also goes beyond violating transgender rights by disallowing municipal governments from raising the minimum wage above that set by the state.
House Bill 2, after passing the State House and Senate, was signed into law by governor Pat McCrory. It is worth noting that while all Senate Democrats walked out of the vote in protest, there were 11 House Democrats who broke rank to vote in favor of the bill for a total tally of 84-25 in the House. According to the NC General Assembly website those representatives were:
William D. Brisson, District 22- Bladen, Johnson, Sampson
Charles Graham, District 47- Robeson
Elmer Floyd, District 43- Cumberland
George Graham, District 12- Craven, Greene, Lenoir
Ken Goodman, District 66- Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland
Howard J. Hunter, III, District 5- Bertie, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank
Larry M. Bell, District 21- Duplin, Sampson, Wayne
Garland E. Pierce, District 48- Hoke, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland
Brad Salmon, District 51- Harnett, Lee
William Richardson, District 44- Cumberland
Michael H. Wray, District 27- Halifax, Northampton
If you are a resident of any of these districts, we highly recommend you take them to account on their overturning not only of trans rights, but also the democratic process of the state.
The Red Party North Carolina, in allying with the causes of all oppressed peoples of the world, cast our lots with the trans community in fighting this affront on their human dignity. We encourage all of our membership to engage with the LGBT+ community in service and if possible to boycott and publicly protest against any business which takes advantage of this new legal right to discriminate against trans people. We also strike out against the state assembly for its silent collusion against the bottom-up flow of power in a functioning democracy, for its attack on the wages of all workers in the state, and we will publicly expose the treacherous conservative Democrats who held hands with their enemies to satisfy a mutual prejudice. Liberation, for all peoples and all workers!