A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

North Carolina’s bathroom bill: HB2 law discriminates against transgenders

Daniel Kong
SRJC installed gender-neutral bathrooms on campus in January 2015.

Gender-neutral restrooms are a reality at Santa Rosa Junior College, but in states like North Carolina, using the restroom or locker room for the gender that identifies them is illegal for transgender people.

Currently a wave of anti-LGBT laws are being enacted across several states. Gay marriage is legal in the United States, but members of the LGBT community can still be legally discriminated against at work or school in many states. Anti-LGBT legislation has real repercussions in people’s lives. It promotes ignorance, prejudice and hatred, and this turns to violence.

I grew up in a conservative town, feeling isolated and in constant fear for my well-being because I’m gay. I know what it feels like to grow up feeling like people hate you because of who you are. I know the look in people’s eyes: they want to destroy you. If they could, they would kill you.

Though I’ve experienced harassment and violence because I’m gay, the transgender community encounters even greater challenges. North Carolina’s HB2 law, or the “bathroom bill,” seeks to have individuals use the restroom and locker room that matches the gender on their birth certificate. It also bars local municipalities from prohibiting discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation in public places.

HB2’s public facilities section is unenforceable, unless North Carolina plans to require birth certificates or have security guards checking genitalia before entering the restroom. These laws aren’t based on reality. What is a reality is the transgender community is vulnerable to violence and discrimination translating to a high suicide attempt rate.

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41 percent of transgender individuals have tried to kill themselves at some point in their lives, as opposed to 4.6 percent for the general population.

Supporters of legislation HB2 say the intent of the law is to protect the privacy and security of women and children because sexual predators could gain access to public facilities by pretending to be transgender. Mediamatters.org contacted law enforcement officials, government employees and advocates for victims of sexual abuse in 12 states where non-discrimination laws are in effect for the use of public facilities. Not a single documented report found a sexual predator posing as a transgender individual to attack someone.

For transgender people, something as basic as using a restroom can result in harassment and violence. According to a study by the Williams Institute, a UCLA School of Law think tank, 68 percent of the transgender respondents indicated when using the restroom, “They were told they were in the wrong facility, told to leave the facility, questioned about their gender, ridiculed or made fun of, verbally threatened, or stared at and given strange looks.”

Eighteen percent of respondents also said they were outright denied the right to use a restroom. In the same study, 54 percent of respondents said they had experienced physical complications in their efforts to avoid using restrooms. The study focused on people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming/genderqueer in the Washington, D.C. area.

SRJC student Kaiya Kramer hosts the Queer life, a weekly radio show on KBBF FM 89.1. As a transgender woman, Kramer has experienced discrimination and said she was fired from a job because of her gender identity. Kramer spoke of micro-aggressions she has experienced, such as being misgendered in a restaurant.

To get involved against anti-LGBT legislation, Kramer suggests financially supporting organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group fighting for LGBT equality. Most importantly, Kramer said she was “inspiring people, who have no reason to support us” to do so, and “to be an advocate.”  Kramer said if we hear someone saying “that’s so gay,” or “is that a dude?” speak up and say something, especially if you have no reason to.

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About the Contributor
Daniel Kong
Daniel Kong, Photo Editor

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