A group of human and civil rights advocates gathered in front of the state Legislative Building this morning to plead with state lawmakers and Governor McCrory not to try and override the nondiscrimination ordinance adopted by the city of Charlotte.
As we have reported previously, conservative legislators are threatening to call a special session of the General Assembly prior to next month’s scheduled return in order to take precisely such action. The explanation for the action: the professed (and illusory) concern that the law’s guarantee of access to public restrooms for transgender people will somehow serve as an invitation for male sexual predators to enter women’s restrooms.
Here’s a brief refresher on what this whole debate is really about from a February post entitled “Pat McCrory, Tim Moore and Franklin Graham want to use the same restroom as Caitlyn Jenner”:
“As long as shameless politicians and bullying preachers are set on taking the matter of Charlotte’s new human rights ordinance (a simple and common sense law that has worked just fine in scores of cities across America) into the gutter with ridiculous claims about sexual predators, we might as well get down to the business of slugging this one out.
So here goes: Pat McCrory, Tim Moore and Franklin Graham want to use the same restroom as Caitlyn Jenner.
I mean, that is, after all is said and done, what these guys are arguing for, isn’t it?
Under the McCrory/Moore/Graham theory of human gender identity, humans are who they are on the day they are born. Any alteration after that is, apparently, null and void as far as the MMG team is concerned.
Caitlyn Jenner? Sorry, it’ll always be Bruce to the MMG boys. Renee Richards? Forever Richard Raskind. Chaz Bono? Forever Chastity.
So, the next time celebrities descend on North Carolina for, I don’t know, a Beyoncé concert, a championship football game, a film shoot in Wilmington or MerleFest in Wilkesboro and for some reason, Caitlyn shows up to check out the scene, let’s hope our bright-lights-loving Guv finds himself in the same men’s room line with a glamorous brunette. Maybe then he can explain to her (and the rest of the world) what the heck he and his buddies were trying to prove with their shameless/shameful pandering.”
A plea for decency and common sense
At this morning’s event, a long list of speakers stood up to patiently explain the absurdity of the lawmakers’ rationale. Perhaps most impressive among the speakers, however, was Charlottean Erica Lachowitz a transgender woman, who noted that she has known her true gender since she was five years old. In quiet and patient but powerful remarks, Lachowitz explained that she understood the fear and confusion of people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the reality of what confronts transgender people, but called on them to learn. She also noted the danger that she feels and has felt (both for herself and her child) for years whenever she was unable to use a women’s restroom and pleaded with lawmakers not to try and force her back into the dangerous situations from which she has, effectively, escaped.
Lachowitz was joined at the podium today by the Rev. Nancy Petty, Pastor at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, two Triangle-area business owners, spokespersons for Equality NC and the ACLU of North Carolina, Charlotte City Council member John Autry and other religious leaders.
Petty decried the trend evident in the recent actions of North Carolina elected officials to enshrine discrimination and exclusion and called on leaders to follow the teachings advanced by multiple faiths to elevate love and compassion over hate.
Autry pointed out the need for the Charlotte area to be a modern and welcoming city if it wants to continue to thrive economically and generate 32% of the state’s economic activity.
In her remarks, Sarah Preston of the ACLU pointed out that if there’s any violence or harassment taking place in public restrooms, transgender people are vastly more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators. She noted that fully half of transgender people report being harassed and 8% say they have been physically assaulted simply for being who they are.
Though news reports indicate that majorities of both the House and Senate have expressed a desire to convene a special session, legislative leaders have not indicated yet whether or not they will actually do so. Sadly, an amazingly hateful tweet sent out this afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger (“Berger Responds to PC Mob’s Call for Men to Share Bathrooms w/ Women & Girls: http://goo.gl/D0IKlc #NCGA #NCPOL” – click here to view it) is not a hopeful sign. Stay tuned.