North Carolina’s Transgender Population Deserves Equal Protection

The partial repeal of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 fails to fully protect their rights.

On March 23, 2016, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed the now-infamous House Bill 2 in response to a Charlotte ordinance extending various rights—in particular the right for individuals to use the public restroom that corresponds to their gender identity—to transgender persons. House Bill 2 overturned Charlotte’s ordinance by obligating North Carolinians to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth certificate. It also forbade local governments from expanding upon state anti-discrimination laws and criteria. This appalling legislation was met with widespread condemnation from sports leagues and corporations, costing North Carolina approximately $3.76 billion.

This past week, in response to an NCAA ultimatum to repeal H.B. 2 or renounce hosting rights until 2022, the Republican-controlled state legislature finally decided to work with recently-elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, passing a compromise measure to repeal the core of H.B. 2. We are heartened to witness compromise in these hyper-partisan times, in regard to both the motivation behind the repeal as well as the repeal’s actual content, but we do not think this particular compromise is sufficient.

First, it was only with the external pressure of a potential economic loss and further damage to North Carolina’s marred reputation that Republican legislators finally budged on the bill. Though we commend the NCAA and other businesses for seeking to place pressure on the state legislature, we are generally wary of an inordinate corporate influence on state politics. We believe that state legislators should be motivated by the principles of equality and respect for the constituents who have elected them into office, rather than the petrifying fear of being left out of March Madness for a few years. It is demeaning and incensing that the rights of transgender persons have been treated merely as bartering chips in a corporate tango. We hope that the NCAA reacts in a way that is in line with the principles it has previously established for itself, rather than rewarding this shallow, calculating move.

Moreover, the repeal measure is only partial, and retains many of H.B. 2’s core tenets. For example, it still prohibits local governments from passing anti-discrimination measures, in effect maintaining a moratorium on civil rights for various identifications, and also reserves the right of regulating multi-stall public bathrooms for the state legislature, leaving North Carolinians at the whim of another Republican power-grab. Governor Roy Cooper has acknowledged as much, conceding that in an ideal world, “[North Carolina] would have repealed House Bill 2 fully today and added full statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians.” Though we acknowledge the difficulty of Cooper’s undertaking—previous attempts to fully repeal H.B. 2 have fallen flat—we believe that the repeal is so diluted as to hardly deserve celebration.

Indeed, the new legislation does not address the core issues surrounding H.B. 2. The policy was an egregious infringement on the rights of transgender people, and fully merited the denunciation it garnered. While the partial repeal has made it so H.B. 2 is no longer the law of North Carolina, this is not enough. The General Assembly of North Carolina has once again shown its general disregard for basic human rights of an at-risk population within the state, and North Carolina will be worse for it.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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