North Carolina: Common Sense

By Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Since North Carolina passed House Bill 2 that, amongst other things, criminalizes trans restroom use in state facilities and schools, a number of things have happened.

Most devastatingly, Mississippi has passed House Bill 1523, which goes even further on transgender bathroom use. Not only does it include similar language to North Carolina's, but also grants businesses, employers and schools immunity from any action from the state regarding usage of so-called "intimate facilities."

It also bars any punishment for therapists and physicians who opt not to treat transgender people. I want to stress that while they were clearly talking specifically about trans-specific needs, this could have farther-reaching consequences, effectively shutting transgender people out of health care for any needs whatsoever in the state of Mississippi. HB 1523 includes a host of other anti-LGBT provisions dealing with marriage, adoption and other needs.

Several other states, emboldened by North Carolina and Mississippi, are looking at bills of their own. Tennessee has reintroduced the previously shelved House Bill 2414, while Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Missouri have bills or ballot initiatives in the works. I suspect there will be even more by the time you read these words.

But back to North Carolina, which is bearing the brunt of the backlash for now.

According to numbers released by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the bill could cost them over 89,000-hotel room stays due to cancelled, lost or hesitant events and organizations. If one assumes that is a loss of $100 a night, that's a loss of $8.9 million dollars just to Charlotte hotels alone.

PayPal has opted to cut a major expansion project that was in the works for North Carolina, to the tune of 400 jobs, while Lionsgate Home Entertainment and A&E Networks are removing film and TV projects from the state. Oh, and as an additional loss, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have canceled a tour stop.

Lawmakers in North Carolina have attempted to strike back. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-NC, has attempted to paint PayPal as hypocritical, citing the company's business dealings in countries that criminalize homosexuality, while Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest attempted the same by noting that PayPal has gender-specific restrooms in their Global Operations Center. Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Walker, R-NC, has opted to call Springsteen a "bully" for not playing in North Carolina, and has opted to welcome instead upcoming shows by Justin Beiber and Def Leppard.

I'm not going to waste space explaining how it is not bullying to not perform in a place you disagree with the politics of, nor how having gender-specific restrooms somehow means you cannot be trans welcoming. Instead, I want to take a moment to look at one of the larger arguments Gov. Pat McCrory and his cronies have put forward about their reasons for passing this bill.

McCrory has, at every turn, tried to declare that their bill was one of "common sense," a reaction to the supposed overreach of trans protections in Charlotte.

On McCrory's personal website, he spoke out on a page titled "The Faces on NC's Commonsense Privacy Law," saying, "The City of Charlotte passed an ordinance that would require businesses to allow anyone of any gender to enter any bathroom or changing room at any time."

"This same ordinance was voted down by the city council last year because of concerns it went too far, allowing men to use women's restrooms and opening the door for sex offenders and pedophiles to exploit this opportunity as they have done in other states," McCrory continued. "Despite concerns from lawmakers and Charlotte residents, the Charlotte City Council passed it anyway."

As he has done before, these facts aren't quite up to snuff. For example, his link to show how sex offenders have done this in other locations goes to a Washington State news report on a protester who disrobed in a women's locker room as a way to speak out against Washington law. In other words, lacking any real-world examples of such behavior, they have been forced to make up their own and exploit examples of inappropriate and illegal behavior

McCrory and others pressing for these bills continue to press a "big lie" strategy, believing if they frame these laws as gateways for pedophiles and sex offenders, people will accept them. In many ways, they're right: humans are easily swayed by arguments that their wives and daughters -- note that they never concern themselves with boys and other males in any of this -- will be victims thanks to a runaway government and agenda-driven leftist activists.

Let's talk common sense, though, as this is the term they like to evoke. If you are faced with someone who appears male, then one would naturally assume they would use a men's restroom. Likewise, if someone appears female, they would naturally use a women's restroom. Let's also assume that these same folks know they are members of the genders they are presenting as. The wide judgment would be that these folks should use restrooms appropriate to their gender identity and expression -- which is exactly what the original Charlotte ordinance covered.

Meanwhile, there are, of course, laws that already exist that cover what happens when a predator attempts to enter facilities of any gender to commit a crime: they are arrested and charged, and no amount of them shouting, "I'm transgender," can change that.

What McCrory and his ilk are doing, therefore, are making up laws that are unnecessary and single out a population that will be further victimized by such laws. Meanwhile they cause harm to their state and political careers, all while not dealing with real issues faced by their constituents.

Now who's not using their common sense?

Gwen Smith thinks it's time to flush these bills. You'll find her at http://gwensmith.com.
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