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Can't Talk | December 14, 2019

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Everybody Poops and HB2

Everybody Poops and HB2
Andrew

“Everybody Poops” is a children’s book about poop and toilet training; many parents use it but it seems that people have started to forget that simple fact. On March 23rd, 104 elected state legislators seem to have forgotten that when they passed a non-discrimination bill that failed to include protections for the LGBTIQ community, specifically protections for transgender individuals and the use of bathroom facilities that correspond with their gender. The state Legislature wasn’t supposed to be in session until late April but, since Charlotte, North Carolina was trying to do the right thing in passing their own non-discrimination laws to extend protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the state Legislature called a special session to prevent the city ordinance from becoming law

Everybody poops, though, and having to carry papers and endure the trial of public scrutiny seems like a an absurd price for basic human dignity. When using a bathroom that doesn’t correspond with their gender identity, it opens up an avenue for harassment. Being told off or yelled at is not even slightly uncommon, threats, slurs, and violence are a tragic escalation. But perhaps most dangerously it can out people, opening them up to harassment and violence when they leave the bathroom as well. When the transgender population already faces so much hatred and discrimination shouldn’t we be doing more to offer protections against it when countries like Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Nepal, and New Zealand already have allowed for non specified gender identity on birth certificates and passports? It is also not a far stretch to go from how these laws are applied to transgender individuals to those who are intersex something lawmakers are even less likely to have an understanding of.

Everybody poops, and I am willing to make the assumption that when people with privilege enter a public bathroom most of what is on their mind is the condition of the facilities, not who is using them. Did the last person flush, will there be urine on the seat, is there toilet paper, and what is that smell? For those without it is much different; there is fear. Fear of harassment, fear of violence, fear of being outed when all they need to do is the most basic of human functions: Poop.

Also that fear of the public has lead to some of the worst suicide statistics I have ever seen. According to the Williams Institute, transgender or gender non-conforming individuals have the highest rate of suicide. A staggering 41% have attempted suicide, as opposed to between 10-20% (still too high) for gay/lesbian/bi-sexual respondants and a significantly smaller 4.6% for cisgender, straight-identifying people. I know I am not the only cisgender person that sees this as a serious problem, and research shows that allowing transgender people to function and publicly enforce as their desired gender is the counter to this statistic.

Everybody poops and what makes matters worse is that this legislation isn’t needed. Support for the legislation is driven by the myth that it will keep women and children safe in the bathrooms and changerooms across the state even though there has never been a recorded case of someone using a non-discrimination ordinance to commit a sexual assault in America. North Carolina has laws against sexual assault, indecent exposure, and sexual assault of minors. This not only “justifies” bigotry against transgender people, by lumping them in with perverts and violent criminals. It doesn’t actually stop these criminals from violating those spaces.

The only thing that gives me hope is the response from within the state, and without. Major employers in North Carolina like Biogen and Red Hat have publicly denounced HB 2. Also American Airlines, Apple, Dow Chemical, PayPal have all released statements denouncing the “anti-discrimination” law.

Perhaps the most surprising announcement was from an organization that I least expected it from; The NBA who are questioning the if they have the ability to host the 2017 All-Star game that is scheduled to take place in Charlotte North Carolina next year saying.

With such large, economically powerful companies, and one of the three largest sporting organizations in North America speaking out against this horrible piece of legislation I have hope that it will either be challenged in the courts and found to be unconstitutional, or that the people of North Carolina who started the hashtag #WeAreNotThis vote the current Republican majority out of the state house and elect representatives that stand for equality.

 

A very special thanks to Amelia my editor, Chachi Bobinks, and Cody, frequent guest on the podcast for helping me get this article right. Everything about this piece was too important to not ask for help. I am too inexperienced with transgender and intersex issues and I needed to make sure I did as much as I could to get the tone, and language right.

Correction: This post was updated Mar. 30, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. to reflect the following correction: A very special thanks to Amelia my editor, Chachi Bobinks, and Cody, frequent guest on the podcast for helping me get this article right.

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