On March 23, House Bill 2 was signed and passed into law by North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. The bill was passed within a mere nine hours and has made North Carolina the center of national controversy. The Democratic members left the chamber in protest, leaving the bill to be passed with a vote of 32-0.
This bill is titled as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which states that a transgender individual must use the restroom of the sex written on their birth certificate. NC laws protect transgender individuals who have undergone a sex reassignment surgery and have changed their gender on their birth certificate. Those who have not undergone the surgery are not protected. This has affected transgender teenagers because this act extends to public school bathrooms as well.
Dyre Lee, a sophomore at Enloe High School and trans-male student expresses his opinions on the matter stating, “As a trans individual that already has extreme anxiety about using the bathroom that I feel comfortable using, this bill not only makes it dangerous for me to go to a public restroom at all, but it also has a psychological impact. America has moved backwards in terms of becoming more LGBT+ friendly, and it hurts me to see that my country thinks that my biological sex defines who I am as a person, and not what I identify as. We all use the bathroom, so can we please stop making it such a big deal of who gets to use what bathroom?” Lee also adds, “On a side note, I’m a teenager, which means that this bill makes it legal for absolute strangers to ask us what our biological sex is, and said strangers more than likely going to be over eighteen, which only adds on to the anxiety and discomfort of having to use the restroom while out in public.”
House Bill 2 has also changes the meaning of the Anti-Discrimination Act, which states that an employer cannot discriminate an employee based on their race, religion, disabilities, and sex. This bill now altered the meaning of “sex” to strictly biological sex rather than the preferred gender identity of a person. An employer can now fire an individual based on their gender identity and cannot be sued. Gays and lesbians are also excluded from discrimination protections. This has sparked an outrage within members of the LGBT+ community.
The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, according to McCrory, is intended to lower the risk of sexual assault in predominantly women’s restrooms despite transgender individuals having the highest suicide rates and sexual assaults when forced to use the bathroom of their biological sex. Last month, an ordinance was passed in Charlotte, North Carolina that stated how businesses should treat individuals of the LGBT+ community and that transgender individuals may use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. House Bill 2 has overrun the ordinance and has brought up questions on the authority of local governments.
Following the signing of the bill, businesses have backlashed against this bill. PayPal, an online money transfer service, has cancelled operations in Charlotte due to North Carolina’s anti-discrimination law. The company had made plans to open a $3.5 million global operations center which would employ four hundred people on March 18, five days prior to the signing of House Bill 2. The PayPal chief executive stated in an announcement on Tuesday, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and violates the values and principles that are the core of PayPal’s mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.” This poses a threat to the employment of North Carolina residents; other firms have begun to reconsider North Carolina expansion such as Lionsgate Films which pulled a comedy series pilot from Charlotte to Canada.
McCrory has remained fairly silent on the matter, stating only, “I respect disagreement,” and that he has no regrets about signing the law. Protests have sparked within North Carolina by not just members of the LGBT+ community but by also business firms. The fear of North Carolina’s civil rights regressing has gone hand in hand with the economic stability.