The issue of transgender bathroom rights now looks like it'll head to federal courts.



North Carolina Is Suing the US to Keep Transphobia Alive

After months of anti-LGBT states attempting to upstage one another, we finally have a champion: North Carolina. Backed by Governor Pat McCrory, the state has decided to make HB2, their transphobic bill that requires that people go to the bathroom according to the gender they were assigned at birth, a fighting issue. The state filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice, demanding that the Department clarify the bathroom bills and provide evidence that North Carolina’s laws are discriminatory.

McCrory has taken a stand against LGBT rights.
McCrory has taken a stand against LGBT rights.

Following in the footsteps of Beyoncé, the Department of Justice issued an opinion last week in which it decried HB2 as “facially discriminatory.” The statement didn’t sit well with McCrory, who said that “the Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina.” In the governor’s mind, he is the victim: “It’s the federal government being a bully.”

The fact that this issue has become so politicized is both saddening and hopeful. It’s saddening because this issue was, for so long, a nonissue on the political spectrum. Transgender people have been going to the bathroom they identify with for decades before Target made it a policy, and for good reason. But with an election year coming up, conservatives like Ted Cruz and his ilk have decided that transgender rights are worth fighting against. The only hope we have is that, after enough butting heads, the Supreme Court will eventually intervene. A suit between the two parties could result in a refinement and stronger definitions for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and could explicitly include transgender rights.

Protests against HB2 have continued throughout.
Protests against HB2 have continued throughout.

The complaint argues that North Carolina does not discriminate, since all employees are “required to use the bathroom and changing facilities assigned to persons of their same biological sex.” There’s a lot hinging on that word “required,” though. By enforcing, or threatening with litigation, transgender people who wish to use the bathroom of their gender identity, they are discriminating by punishing a minority population with a law that doesn’t affect the majority. Of course, courts are a lot more technical, and rely on years and years of old, potentially misguided rulings in order to justify their own. We’ll see how much this episode unfolds during the rest of the year. It will be interesting to see, for instance, whether or not proselytizing politicians will still care so deeply about an issue that doesn’t affect them after the election season.

Stay tuned to Milk for more on HB2.

Images courtesy HuffPo, CNN, ABC. 

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