In our modern day society, it seems strange that we are still trying to make this whole “equality” thing work, but then we must remember that there are new circumstances coming to our attention all the time. In the fight for transgender equality, society in general continues to understand and come to terms with the idea that life is not how we once imagined, simply because life cannot be defined with such specific terms as man or woman, straight or gay, black or white. Life is colourful, and we must make sure our communities and our governments continue to evolve in this way.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, officials spent over a year considering and debating an anti-discrimination ordinance passed last February which encourages a culture of inclusiveness in the city. While you would imagine that, with so much progress having being made socially and lawfully in the U.S. on this topic, a positive outcome would have been reached, that simply isn’t the case. In fact, state lawmakers denied it this Wednesday, passing instead an atrocious and unconstitutional bill which prohibits transgender people from using public restrooms that coincide with the gender they most feel fits their identity. Instead, they are to use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also hinders cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.
The bill was passed by Governor Pat McCrory, who says it was a necessary ordinance because it allowed “men to use women’s bathroom/locker room.” The general worry seems to be that transgender women may be potential rapists. Yet this perspective is so against the times and so full of bigotry, it’s almost laughable that people still somehow think this way.
This situation isn’t simply a state refusing to acknowledge or keep up with the times, but rather one where the state has actively gone out of its way to oppose them. It’s also the first state to pass an ordinance of this kind. And to get the bill through, the ridiculous bill cost taxpayers a whopping $42,000. The debate lasted a mere 30 minutes, with speakers given two minutes each to have their voices heard. In protest, the Democrats exited the Senate.
The lawmakers were careful not to make the bill scream bigotry, however. The provision was carefully slipped into the innocent title “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act,” which sounds like it has nothing to do with this situation at all. The act forbids cities from setting a minimum wage that is any higher than the state’s 7.25 per hour, and under it is the rule that transgender people in North Carolina must use a public restroom that matches what their gender states on their birth certificate.
So why don’t transgender people simply change their sex on their birth certificate then? In North Carolina, this is only acceptable if they have actually gone through with gender reassignment surgery — a process not every individual can afford, nor chooses to go through. So, regardless of where you are in your life — how you feel about your body, what defines you, what doesn’t define you, etc. — your rights to practice that, in terms of seeing yourself as a different sex than what your birth certificate says, will be suppressed.
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