familiarity breeds understanding

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has become an enormous train wreck.  (You can read my previous posts about HB2 here, here, and here.)  Since my last blog post outlining the economic fallout from passing HB2 we’ve managed to move from corporate and artistic protests into the court of law.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina, stating that HB2’s denial of access to sex-segregated restrooms consistent with gender identity for transgender individuals while providing it for non-transgender employees violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  (That would be the Act passed in 1964 making it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.)

Instead of meeting the federal government’s demands to remedy matters, North Carolina officials filed their own lawsuit against the Justice Department, asserting that its position is a “radical interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”  Radical.  Apparently expecting equal provisions for all employees is considered extremist in NC.

Holy Mary mother of God, is this our story now?  The federal government is suing our state in an attempt to get it through NC’s head that equal rights for all Americans means equal rights for all Americans, not just the ones you’re comfortable sitting with in church.  And like petulant children who’ve been taken to task for misbehaving, our state officials did what most children do – they shot back.

What Part 1 of HB2 (the only part of the bill addressing restrooms) really says is that some Americans are less than.  That certain people are less deserving of dignity and security, less worthy of protections we considered so vital to our country’s value system that we wrote them into law in 1964.  That an American’s significance depends on whether they act in accordance with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Now, lest it gets lost (once again) in the weeds, the problem with HB2 does not lie in the bathroom issue.  That’s getting the most press, seeing as not many people are drawn to constitutional debates about basic human rights in America.  It’s a lot more compelling to write about the boogeyman pretending to be transgender in order to raid the girls’ bathroom, so that’s what the media and politicians are hitting hardest.

But transgender access to bathrooms is far from the only thing HB2 affects.  This House Bill also restricts minimum wage increases and child labor protections.  It alters language so that the law protects against discrimination based specifically on biological sex, then it guts the protection altogether by denying the ability to file claims at the state level.

I’m pretty much at a loss.

What I do know is this: people are more likely to fear the unknown.  The stranger, the guy in the elevator wearing makeup, the boy in class who says he’s a girl…I won’t deny these are difficult concepts to wrap your head around, but if it were your family…if it was your son or brother forced to live his life in a body that feels foreign and uncomfortable…well, I suspect your perspective might shift just a little.

So what we all need is exposure.  A chance to get to know people who are living through the confusion and turmoil of being transgender in America.  People like “T.”

“As a toddler shopping for costumes, T wanted to be a fairy or cheerleader or witch.  On play dates, she hung out with girls in play kitchens.  T’s mom remembers when she realized it wasn’t just a phase.

T was four years old, cradled in her lap.  The mother had always enjoyed having her nephews around.  She explained to T how excited she had been to learn she was pregnant with a boy baby.

‘I wanted to be a girl one, Mama,’ T said through quivering lips.”

Read a little about what it’s like to be a transgender child in America.

A transgender 9-year-old tells her story – LA Times

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