Creep of the Week: Dan Forest

By D'Anne Witkowski

Did you hear the one about how North Carolina is a great place for women and girls?

Because North Carolina just passed HB2, the most discriminatory anti-LGBT legislation in the country. To protect the ladies! Duh.

You see, as the state's lieutenant governor, Dan Forest recently explained to Tony Perkins, professional homophobe and hater, to protect the rights of LGBT people, especially those who identify as transgender, is to discriminate against women and girls. And the city of Charlotte was about to enact an ordinance that would have protected LGBT people, so it had to be stopped.

"We don't like discrimination and that's why we passed an anti-discrimination law, that's what HB2 was," Forest told Perkins. "(I)t's easy to stand up and say, 'We don't like anybody being discriminated against.' Well, our bill does not discriminate against anybody."

Ah. So, according to Forest, even though the heart of the bill is to keep trans people out of public restrooms, a place that is already a focal point of discrimination and harassment against gender non-conformance, HB2 doesn't discriminate against anybody. Which is another way to say that transgender people are nobodies. Huh, I guess all lives don't matter after all.

Oh, but please go on about how icky discrimination is, Mr. Forest.

"The Charlotte ordinance was amazingly discriminatory against, especially, women and girls who no longer had the freedom to walk into a restroom and know that they would be safe and secure in that restroom without a man walking in or a pedophile or a predator walking into that bathroom. That's really discriminatory if you want to talk about discrimination."

Yeah, that's the REAL discrimination. All of these cross-dressing rapists/molesters/perverts who, prior to the passage of HB2, were an inescapable menace in public restrooms and locker rooms across the state. In fact, the danger was so great that women and girls had taken to just squatting in the streets, you know, for safety.

Or not.

According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the argument that HB2 prevents sexual violence is bullshit: "(T)he majority of sexual violence is perpetrated by someone the victim knows in a familiar place, rather than by a stranger in a public place. Two hundred cities across the nation have protections in place similar to the Charlotte ordinance, and none of them have reported an increase in sexual violence related to these protections."

NCCASA continues, "On the other hand, physical and verbal assaults on transgender people in public bathrooms are not rare, and over 50 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual violence. We cannot end sexual violence unless we are committed to ending sexual violence for all people. What will actually prevent and end sexual violence is for us to create a culture in which respect for the identities and bodily autonomy of others is a deeply held value. Policies prohibiting discrimination based on one's sexuality and gender identity, like the one passed in Charlotte, are a positive step toward ending sexual violence."

In other words, HB2 actually increases the potential for sexual assault by legitimizing the dehumanization of people and devaluing their bodies. Of course, folks like Forest don't see trans people as, well, people.

Now, some argue that laws like HB2 are only window dressing since they're, in practice, near impossible to enforce. But honestly it doesn't matter if a single person is apprehended for peeing while trans. The very culture of suspicion and fear it creates will put trans people, already a vulnerable population in terms of legal protections and public understanding, at risk of increased harassment and violence.

So Forest may say that he doesn't "like" discrimination, but he clearly approves of it. If he was so worried about the health and safety of women and girls (and I include trans women and girls in that even if he doesn't), he would be more concerned about protecting a women's right to abortion and reducing the state's high child poverty rate. I'm not holding my breath.


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