When Attorney General Loretta Lynch, herself a North Carolina native, made her public announcement on May 9th that she would be taking on North Carolina’s House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, she made history.
On March 23, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to pass House Bill 2, which struck down part of an anti-discrimination provision and required transgender people in public agencies to use bathrooms based on what was between their legs when they were born. The bill was signed into law by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory later that day.
The legislature and the governor not only took time away from addressing huge issues in the state—like poverty, a host of environmental issues, and a whole lot of other big problems—to meddle in something they are so clearly uneducated about, but they also broke federal anti-discrimination laws in doing so.
And, one has to wonder, if it is predators attacking our daughters in public bathrooms that we are worried about, why is it better to allow them in bathrooms with our boys?
This law won’t change predatory behavior and is completely misguided. All it does is cast suspicion and blame on a group of people who have no history of bathroom crimes and who are not predators. In fact, if anything, it increases the risk of assault by adding to public fear and hate for transgender people.
Lynch’s stand on the issue, and her direction of the Department of Justice to take swift action in remedying this situation, is promising. When we look at history, from Jim Crow laws to Brown vs. Board of Education, both of which are mentioned by Lynch, some Americans have shown a tendency to kick and scream when they’re not allowed to discriminate before the the Justice Department, and common sense, have forced them into line on the right end of history.
Said Lynch in her speech,
“This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion and open-mindedness. What we must not do—what we must never do—is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.
This is why none of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment.”
Lynch went on to say,
“You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm—but that just is not the case. Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share. This law provides no benefit to society—all it does is harm innocent Americans.”
Lynch’s announcement and the Justice Department’s quick response gives many of us hope that equality can exist one day. It puts us one step closer to the freedom and equality that we were all meant to have as Americans.
And for transgender people and those who know and love them, it is one more step toward acceptance and understanding that they often so desperately need.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Image: Cory Doctorow/Flickr
Editor: Emily Bartran