North Carolina lawmakers recently set strict standards for restroom access in their state, passing a law, House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. This mandates people who use the state’s public restrooms, changing facilities and locker rooms must use the room that directly matches the biological sex on their birth certificates.
Transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender with which they identify. However, they must get the biological sex on their birth certificates changed to do so, ABC News reported.
In response to the bill’s passage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Monday, March 28, banning non-essential state travel to North Carolina.
“The order requires all state agencies, departments, boards and commissions to review all requests for state-funded travel to North Carolina,” Albany broadcast station CBS 6 News reported on its website.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday, April 5, Mississippi passed a similar law. However, there are differences.
“It is the first law (in Mississippi) to prohibit state government from taking any discriminatory action against a person, religious organization, business or government employee for refusing services to LGBT people,” the Post reported.
CNN reported the city council of Charlotte, North Carolina passed an ordinance that allows transgender individuals to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identities before the state passed its law.
North Carolina Sen. Phil Berger spoke on a CNN broadcast and said it was “crazy.”
PSUC Gender and Women’s Studies Department Chair Susan Mody said she believes these pieces of legislation are part of a growing backlash against the Charlotte ordinance, the Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage and recent trans visibility.
She said some North Carolinians believe in something called the “gender binary” — the idea that gender is exclusive to being only male and female.
PSUC Gender and Women’s Studies Associate Professor Connie Oxford said North Carolina lawmakers argue this measure would provide added safety, but she also said transgender people are not statistically violent in large numbers.
“We have this group of people who, I think, to some conservative lawmakers, look like they’re making special demands,” she said. “We live in a society that has said you have to be one or the other, and that’s what the bathrooms represent.”
Since North Carolina passed its law, Cuomo is not the only person taking a stand.
USA Today reported Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in the state, and PayPal canceled construction of an operations center that would bring $3.6 million and about 400 jobs to the state’s economy.
Activists protested out in front of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s mansion in Raleigh, The Advocate, an LGBT-rights magazine, reported. Several people were arrested for blocking the street. However, The Advocate reported it could not obtain the “exact number of arrestees.”
PSUC newspaper journalism major Jasely Molina said identification is a form of freedom of speech, and that includes gender identity and expression.
However, Molina said she understands how this can pose a problem. She said some might feel like they can take advantage of the situation and enter an opposite-sex bathroom and cause harm, but she said that isn’t a “major issue.”
Adirondack Hall Resident Director Susanne Fenton said gender-inclusive housing in Adirondack takes up one of its first-floor hallways provides some students a comfortable living space.
She said Adirondack Hall offers rooms that accommodate two students per room whereas deFredenburgh Hall offers gender-inclusive suites.
“Imagine everything from just being on campus, to being in the workplace, to being wherever you are out in public, and not being able to find a bathroom,” Oxford said. “It just creates a lot of problems for people who are trans.”
Email Tim Lyman at firstname.lastname@example.org