North Carolina, paving the way for discrimination

Things had been going too well for the LGBT community lately.

A few weeks ago it was the South Dakota Republican governor who vetoed legislation that would have prevented transgendered people from using the public bathroom of the gender that they align with. A similar bill in Tennessee died in committee just last week.

At the time of the South Dakota veto, I pondered what would have happened if the bill was passed into law, and what the public backlash would be? Since it never happened, it never really made it to mainstream news. Remember, it takes anger for most people to really become aroused enough to start caring about a particular topic.

Well, this week we found out what that backlash would look like.

On one hand, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal pledged to veto a bill that would have threatened the civil rights of the LGBT community and likely would have opened the door for discrimination.

But there always has to be one state that just doesn’t get the memo. And this time, it was North Carolina. In a week that should have been headlined by the state’s predominant college basketball team making the Final Four, the nation’s focus was instead pointed towards the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and governor, Pat McCrory.

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In a hastily called session that cost taxpayers $42,000, the Senate approved a bill that not only disallows transgenders from using the bathroom of the gender they align with, but which also, for good measure, overturned all local non-discrimination ordinances.

There’s so many despicable things that happened here. The first thing was the rapid, secretive method in which it was passed without public input. The state’s Democratic legislators were so against this bill that they actually walked out of the Senate chamber while it was being voted on.

But worst of all, it was done in response to a law recently passed in Charlotte that would have protected transgender rights. This new law was essentially created to undo the Charlotte one.

Oh boy. It’s been a rough few days for North Carolina since this law was passed last Thursday. Not only have major corporations and sports leagues like the NBA spoken out against it, but there was this amazing Tweet, as well as this equally amazing video North Carolina law2.jpgproduced by the comic website Funny or Die.

Finally, a coalition of individuals and organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the law, arguing that it violates the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws.

It just boggled my mind because, most of all, it just makes North Carolina seem like a hateful place. By virtue of one law, they’re obstructing social progress and advocating discrimination.

Supporters of the law say that women are in danger because they’ll be in the same bathroom as men (as in, people who have transgendered from man to woman).

First of all, this implies that all transgenders are sexual predators.

Second of all, sexual assault is illegal in all circumstances, regardless of what local laws there are.

Transgendered individuals are among the most vulnerable and discriminated people in our society. They deal with prejudice and inequality on a daily basis.

So yeah, North Carolina, go ahead and make their lives even worse. Good job. And Governor McCrory, good luck in your reelection this November. 

You know this is especially sad when, after spending time on this topic, I have to think about the presidential race in order to cheer myself up.

What a time we’re living in.

The time to start caring about transgender rights is now

It often takes one landmark decision for people to start rallying around a certain issue.

For example, it was last summer when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right, effectively legalizing it and thus ordering all states to acknowledge gay couples who request marriage licenses (although, don’t tell that to one deplorable Kentucky clerk).

On the eve of that decision, and in the days following, people were voicing their overwhelming support for same-sex couples, even going as far to overlay their Facebook pictures with the colors associated with gay pride.

I’m not saying that most people never cared about the issue before the Supreme Court ruling, but it shows it takes a major event to really galvanize the average person into advocacy.

Although if you ask any homosexual in America, they’ll tell you that there’s still a long way to go until they truly are on equal footing under the law.

And now, as we approach the summer of 2016, eyes are turning towards another group of people who, while gradually gaining more and more support, still face severe oppression in our country: transgenders.

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The story of Einar Wegener, dramatized in the recent film The Danish Girl, shows us that people have been surgically altering their bodies for 100 years to switch genders, and yet, it’s not until now that they’re really being accepted into the mainstream. There is estimated to be about 700,000 transgenders in the U.S., or 0.3 percent of the adult population.

While there’s no major Supreme Court ruling upcoming regarding transgenders, people forget that there are lots of decisions made on the local and state level that set early precedents and can create significant burdens on the lives of many people.

Which is what made what happened in South Dakota earlier this week that much more encouraging.

Many states right now are crafting legislation to disallow transgenders, and Transgenders2particularly transgender youths, from being able to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with. In South Dakota, the first such bill was passed by the state’s Republican-majority Senate and House and sent to the governor for approval.

After a week’s worth of deliberation, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, citing that it did “not address any pressing issue” facing the state, and could cause legal problems moving forward, since it would contradict the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX.

Anyway, this was really important because it’s the first major decision of its kind. Had it been passed, it might have streamlined similar laws in other states. Which can still happen, by the way, but at least there is now a standard that has been set.

So if you’re fan of equality, and would like to see the privileges our nation offers applied to everyone, you may want to start following this issue now, long before it ever becomes a Supreme Court case.

Indeed, for transgenders, the battle has just begun. In that same state, the South Dakota House recently passed a bill that would restrict transgender students’ participation in high school sports.

Sadly, people might not start caring until Facebook offers them a transgender-related color in which they could overlay their profile picture.