You know what I worry about in public bathrooms? Unattended children crawling under the stall door and watching me pee. There have been times where I was stricken immobile with anxiety, perched on disposable toilet seat covers, in anticipation of grubby fingers grasping the underside of the stall door as though in a horror movie. And yet, I have never tried to pass legislation to ease the effects of this misconduct. (Crazy, right? It’s like I don’t even care about my own country and the people that inhabit it.)
But not everyone is as passive as I am. This March, the General Assembly of North Carolina and Governor Pat McCrory took action to alleviate their bathroom insecurities, calling lawmakers to Raleigh for a special session. (Cue Church Lady: “Isn’t that special.”) House Bill 2 (HB2) actually reverses a previous Charlotte ordinance that banned discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBT. So not only does this bill get rid of what seems like an exceptionally reasonable ordinance, it also prevents any local governments from filing their own non-discrimination regulations, dictates that students in public schools use only the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and, in a completely unrelated, random act, prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.
I think that they just threw that last one in there to make this piece of legislation seem like an actual piece of political, economic policy because otherwise, this bill is like the “Kool Kids Klub” memo that the bullies in my 5th grade class made to keep kids who didn’t wear Abercrombie from wanting to talk to them. (This is a very real and problematic thing that happened in my youth.)
I clearly already have opinions on this matter, but, wanting to be truly Unaffiliated, I resolved to check my biases (are they still considered biases when they support basic human rights?) at the door and fully investigate the situation.
My first step in this investigation was reading the bill itself. It turns out HB2 is just a catchy working title, so check out the bill’s even catchier true name: “An Act to Provide for Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations.” You have to give the North Carolina General Assembly credit for bill titles that just roll off the tongue.
The “Act to Provide for Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations” (I just can’t stop saying it!) then defines a few key phrases, the most relevant of which is, perhaps, biological sex: “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.” Okay, so biological sex is basically one’s sexual anatomy. I think I’ve heard of that before. But what about the definition of gender, North Carolina General Assembly? Or gender identity? How can we talk about these things without including the whole story?
And furthermore, the changing of one’s birth certificate is not a simple task. There are endless scenarios in which someone might not have the correct biological sex indicated on their birth certificate. Besides, who carries their birth certificates around?
This is not the last transgression in HB2. With this incomplete foundation, the bill continues to stumble along in complete ignorance. Here’s the proverbial meat and potatoes: “in no event shall that accommodation result in the local boards of education allowing a student to use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility designated under subsection (b) of this section for a sex other than the student's biological sex.”
I have a bill to file, too, North Carolina General Assembly. It’s titled “An Act to Provide for Acts That Actually Make Sense and Don't Persecute People Based on Petty Prejudice and Discrimination and to Create Child Barriers at the Bottom of Stall Doors to Prevent Them from Peeking.” It may not sound as catchy as yours, but it’s a hell of a lot less ridiculous.