We ask the important questions here at Dave Alexander & Company.
The following is based upon the premise that transgendered people are brave and intelligent enough to be told the truth about what other folks are thinking. It is also based upon the idea that bigotry against people who are different is not acceptable. If those two concepts are not true for you, maybe this essay isn’t for you.
North Carolina has become the new South Africa, with folks lining up daily to denounce the legislation known as House Bill 2 – or HB2. The law was passed by our General Assembly (a duly elected body) and signed by the governor (who was also elected to his office.) I mention the election thing since elections matter. Over the last few years, Republicans earned a majority in both houses of the General Assembly, and we have a Republican governor.
The NAACP, the ACLU and the NBA are all involved in deciding whether people in my state are bigots.
It has become fashionable to assume conservatives, Republicans and southerners always have the bigoted position, and liberals, Democrats and progressives always take a nuanced approach. In this case, that’s just not true.
The law passed by the General Assembly and signed that same night by Gov. Pat McCrory goes further than a narrow elimination of Charlotte’s ordinance, which had generated the most controversy by a change that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity. The new law also nullified local ordinances around the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.
The state has long had laws regulating workplace discrimination, use of public accommodations, minimum wage standards and other business issues. The new law – known as HB2, the Charlotte bathroom bill or, more officially, as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – makes it illegal for cities to expand upon those state laws, as more than a dozen cities had done including Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham.
Two Unresolved Issues at Work Here
- Who manages toilets in North Carolina? Do municipalities have the authority to describe who can use bathrooms? In North Carolina, right now, no. While many conservatives believe that local government is the most responsive, I’m not aware that access to bathrooms has ever been a municipal issue in quite the same way that roads, sidewalks and zoning have been. The Charlotte Observer story above points out that the minimum wage issue is also a part of HB2. Local governments can’t set higher minimum wages in North Carolina now. As much as the transgender issue might be getting the attention, this issue may boil down to the limits and role of municipal governments.
- Where should men in dresses go to the bathroom? Right now in North Carolina, the General Assembly has decided that transgendered folks should go to the bathroom which matches their birth certificate. I suspect they might be willing to suggest that men who have full sex changes might ought to go to the bathroom in the ladies room, but nobody wanted to write the law that way. ‘Bathrooms and genitalia should match each other’ seems odd, huh? The law demands that men – regardless of their chosen gender — must use the men’s room.
Shorter HB2:”Men must stay out of the places where our daughters and wives pee.”
I know that transgendered folks are convinced that North Carolina is full of bigots, but there is a basic fact: We love our kids and women, and we want them safe.
Suppose for a moment we agree that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with men who dress and live as women, and women who dress and live as men. You’ll find a lot of people on both sides of that debate in North Carolina, just as you can find a lot of folks everywhere struggling with the issue.
Where will transgendered folks go to pee? In the bathroom with our sons, or the one with our daughters? Which is safer?
I know some transgendered (male to female) individuals feel afraid using the men’s room. Yup, I can see that might be an issue. Do I care about your safety more than I care about the safety of my daughter or wife? Not so much. Sorry Cait.
Actual transgendered folks resent being tossed in with perverts. I get that. Assuming that the urge or the lifelong feeling that you are stuck in the wrong gender is legitimate – how do we decide in the moment who is transgendered, and who is a weirdo just trying to get a peek at the girls in the bathroom? I don’t see molesters around every corner, but most folks are leery of a man wearing women’s clothing — no matter how compassionate we’d like to be.
LGBT activists are very comfortable demonizing North Carolina’s Republican General Assembly, since everyone needs a windmill these days. In this case, the Republican/slightly conservative General Assembly has the much more nuanced opinion.
If everybody can tone down the name calling, and see the issue honestly, there might be a hope for a solution. I’d write more, but I gotta take a bathroom break. Does it matter which bathroom I use?