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While We Were Out: North Carolina’s Bathroom Law

[Content note: mentions of transphobia and child sexual abuse]

While Feministe has been down, an issue erupted in North Carolina about where trans people are allowed to pee. In response to a local ordinance in Charlotte outlawing discrimination against trans people, the North Carolina legislature passed HB2, a law mandating discrimination, requiring trans people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate rather than the gender with which they identify — and preventing other municipalities from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances. It also establishes a statewide quote-nondiscrimination-unquote policy that pointedly does not mention LGBT people.

Some highlights, if somehow you missed it while you were missing us:

The wives-and-daughters argument

Support of the law has been divided between people on the trans people are gross and wrong side of things and the there’s nothing wrong with trans people, I’m not a bigot, some of my best friends are trans, I just care about men going into the women’s room pretending to be trans and doing horrible things side. (Most Republican legislators appear to fall into this group.) (And it’s always wives and daughters, too. Do you think boys ever feel neglected because people aren’t being bigoted sacks of shit on their behalf?)

(Furthermore, what’s particularly interesting about this latter argument is that apparently, up until now we’ve been at the mercy of the most law-abiding sex offenders in the world, all, “Man, I really want to molest someone, but I haven’t been allowed go into the women’s room. Thank God for this new loophole! Into the ladies’ loo I go!” It’s not like Charlotte’s ordinance also legalizes peeping, harassment, or sexual assault. Even if a man wanders into the women’s room, claiming to be a trans woman, all he gets to do is eliminate, wash his hands, and check his teeth for spinach, because everything else remains illegal.)

Media Matters has compiled a list of all of the reported incidents of sexual predation by a transgender person in states that have passed nondiscrimination laws. Executive summary: It’s zero. Zero incidents. But the post also provides a list of specific places where it hasn’t happened, if you were wondering, like, “But what about Connecticut?” No, not Connecticut either.

On the other hand, in a survey of transgender people, 70 percent of respondents reported having been denied access to facilities, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted. But yeah, in the interest of everyone’s safety, let’s make this woman, or this woman, or this one brave a men’s room every time she has to pee.


Opposition has come from, in addition to numerous grassroots parties, the U.S. Justice Department, which has filed a civil rights suit to block implementation of the law. PayPal and Deutsche Bank have canceled plans to expand into North Carolina, and Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Boston, Pearl Jam, and Bruce Springsteen have all canceled concerts in protest.

Workplace discrimination

At a recent Against Me! concert in Durham, lead singer Laura Jane Grace set her birth certificate on fire in protest of the bathroom bill. (She came out as trans in 2012.) But beyond opposition to the law as a whole, she also pointed out that attention paid to the bathroom aspect of the bill has overshadowed another, even more pernicious aspect: the fact that under Section 3.2 of the new law, trans people can’t sue their employers for discrimination in state courts. (She was mistaken when she said that others would be able to sue for discrimination and she wouldn’t — the state will no longer hear any workplace discrimination complaints for any offense, leaving victims of discrimination to spend the time, money, and considerable effort to file federal suit.) So not only are trans people the victim of explicitly mandated discrimination, they can’t even petition for help from the only party that has the authority to give it.

Public schools

Top officials in the Obama administration have issued a directive to all public schools and many colleges and universities to give trans students access to facilities consistent with their gender identities. Under Title IX, these institutions risk losing their federal funding if they discriminate against trans students. Most state and local officials have complied, even if only under threat of loss of funding and not because it’s just the right damn thing to do. Others are pushing back, of course; the Texas (I know, you’re shocked) lieutenant governor has vowed to “not yield to blackmail” and allow little girls to pee in the little girls’ room and little boys to pee in the little boys’ room.

Some parents, as you might imagine, have vowed to pull their kids from any school that guarantees equal peeing rights. The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in North Carolina voted to overturn a policy prohibiting mace and pepper spray in high schools, for to spritz assailants. But board member Chuck Hughes said they’re going to go back and vote against the change later this month because he “was not thinking about the LGBT issue,” he said. “Perverts and pedophiles taking advantage of this law in bathrooms was my major concern.”

No shit. You weren’t thinking of the safety of LGBT students. I’m shocked to hear that. I’m so shocked that I’m going to need a minute.

Bigots hate $5 off of select brands of shampoo with coupon

And finally: In April, Target officially announced their bathroom policy: that trans people can pee where they damn want to. As is to be expected, this announcement was met by boycotts from anti-trans, pro-discrimination parties, most prominently through a pledge circulated by the American Family Association with, to date, more than 1.2 million signatures. Target reports that while some stores have seen protests and taken a sales hit, overall sales have been basically unaffected. So… nice job, bigots. I hope you pee yourself in the parking lot while you’re marching for discrimination.

All of you. I hope you all pee yourselves.

3 thoughts on While We Were Out: North Carolina’s Bathroom Law

  1. Unisex bathrooms would make this so not an issue…
    Thanks for writing this up with a sense of humor. It needs it.

  2. Hey, great post. As a resident in NC the fact that we didn’t get to vote on it pisses me off the most. Here we are stuck suffering from a choice we didn’t even make! Grr.

  3. … where trans people are allowed to pee.

    In practice, it’s more like “where people who look like they might be trans are allowed to pee.

    A number of the women who’ve been getting harrassed, arrested, thrown out, etc., for “being in the wrong bathroom” are cis.

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