Government lawsuits take flight in North CarolinaBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Commentary: Trans Progressive
“Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a May 9 news conference announcing a lawsuit against North Carolina over the provisions of HB 2: specifically the provisions that require transgender people in public agencies, schools and rest stops to use the bathrooms consistent with their sex assigned at birth, rather than bathrooms that fit their gender identity. “… no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.”
“[North Carolina’s HB 2] speaks to all of us who have ever been made to feel inferior; like somehow we just don’t belong in our community, like somehow we just don’t fit in,” added Vanita Gupta, the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division a bit further into the news conference. “Let me reassure every transgender individual, right here in America, that you belong just as you are. You are supported. And you are protected.”
Extraordinary statements for extraordinary times. Numerous of my transgender friends report having tears on hearing these words in response to the discrimination transgender people are experiencing in North Carolina.
Besides the United States suing North Carolina (Gov. Patrick McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina), there is also a lawsuit from plaintiffs North Carolina Gov. Patrick L. McCrory and the state’s Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry (collectively known as “plaintiffs”) who’ve sued the Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta; they filed their lawsuit prior to the DOJ filing their lawsuit.
North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory has been arguing all along that North Carolina’s law doesn’t discriminate. However, the collective plaintiffs believe, according to their filing: “The overwhelming weight of legal authority recognizes that transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII.”
At Gov. McCrory’s May 9 press conference, he stated, “I want to ensure the people of our state and our country that North Carolina has long held traditions of ensuring equality.”
Well, as a trans woman let me add the caveat “unless you’re transgender.” Discrimination and inequality apparently only applies if you’re a member of a protected class Gov. McCrory recognizes.
“The majority of our citizens in our great state, and this governor, did not seek out this issue,” McCrory went on to add in the news conference. “However, the state of North Carolina and this governor welcome the opportunity to be part of the solution for all of the states and especially our nation.”
The solution that the leaders of the North Carolina Senate and House propose is stated this way: “Despite being grossly mischaracterized in the media, [HB 2] does not embody hostility toward those whose gender identity differs from their biological sex. To the contrary, the Act specifically allows a flexible system of single-occupancy facilities for persons who do not wish to use public facilities designated for their biological sex. The Act also leaves in place existing provisions allowing a person to obtain a sex-change operation, make a corresponding change to their birth certificate, and then use the public facilities consistent with their new anatomy.”
Well, that’s a mighty low set bar for the legislators to say HB 2 doesn’t embody antitransgender hostility.
I’ll place my hope and faith in that history Attorney General Lynch mentioned. As abolitionist Theodore Parker once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
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