Getting to the Heart of HB2- It was never about bathrooms.One Man's Opinion.
Over the past few weeks, we have been bombarded with stories in the news, Facebook feeds and Twitter notifications regarding anti-gay and anti-transgender laws and policies being passed by one state after another. To read the stories, and more importantly reading the comment sections, one would be lead to believe that men dress in women's clothing only to gain access to the ladies room and attack unsuspecting and weak women or girls. The sad fact is, the hysteria being created around the Transgendered community is nothing more than a smokescreen, a situation that has been exaggerated to pass laws and regulations designed to undermine the progress made by the LGBT community.
Upon reading the actual law that was passed in North Carolina, the hidden agenda becomes clear as day. Clearly this piece of legislature was a direct retaliation on the towns and cities in North Carolina who decided to include the LGBT community within its anti-discrimination laws. Basically on a local level creating a protective class. When the state government refused to act, cities moved forward.
An argument that is often made centers around the need for creating a protective class at all. Anti-discrimination laws are critical for the fair and honest treatment of others. When a person can be fired from his or her job for any reason other than performance, then discrimination has been identified. Because sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity have not been recognized yet as a protected class on the federal level, many states have moved forward and incorporated these groups in the discrimination laws of their state. What North Carolina’s law did, was revoke this protected class on a local level by including in the language of the “ Transgender Bathroom” law stating that only the state has the authority to dictate protected classes and that the state law will supersede any local ordinance. HB2 banned anyone other than the state government from protecting men and women’s jobs, access to housing and basically any form of discrimination or harassment.
Many people supported the bill, not because they believe that discrimination is acceptable, but because they did not, nor have they taken the time to read the bill. For some, this bill has become a joke, for almost everyone believes in the inherent dangers of a transgender person, male or female, believing that these people who have been using the bathroom of their gendered identity without issue, have been in fact laying in wait as predators that need to be stopped. Historically this sound very familiar.
What I find interesting in all of this, is the target group which took center stage. Survey after survey shows that in the United States, public opinion has greatly changed in regards to gays and lesbians nationwide, yet when states are surveyed we still find states and communities that continue to discriminate and harass anyone one within the LGBT community. While the T in LGBT represents the Transgendered members of this community, even within the LGBT community, Transgenders are subject to discrimination and ridicule, making them an easy target and an opening to pass laws which affect the entire LGBT community.
As humans, we tend to fear what we do not understand. Little by little, it has become easier for the straight community to understand sexual orientation. Most people either know someone who is gay or lesbian, have one in their family. Yet when it comes to the transgendered community, the same can not be said. I personally have no frame of reference when it comes to transgender issues. It is not something I personally understand, and relating to gender identity issues would be very hard for me. I can understand the struggle for acceptance. I can understand the fight to understand one's self. Because of this, I can support the transgendered community, not because I understand all the issues, but because I focus on the issues that are relatable to me and know that no one should have to suffer any form of discrimination just because I am unable to understand the full spectrum of issues faced by them.
I am not a political expert. When I think I understand why our government, either state or federal, does something, normally I find that I am very wrong. I ask myself, why would state governments feel the need to pass laws which allow their citizens to live in fear of being fired, or being evicted legally for nothing more than being Gay or Lesbian? And the only answer I can find relates to the Supreme Courts ruling on same-sex marriage which made same-sex legal across the country. If a state government opposed this ruling, which many states did, yet was unable to stop it or reverse it, what would be the next logical step? Openly create an atmosphere of fear by creating the open threat that if you marry someone of the same sex, you could lose your job, you could lose your apartment. By essentially legalizing discrimination, you force the LGBT community back in the closet or out of your state. By focusing on one group within the LGBT community, you are able to cloak your discrimination as a form of public protection, even gaining support from the very community who will suffer from such laws. Until the federal government adopts the gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual identity as a protective class, the states will continue to create and implement laws designed to undermine the advances that the LGBT community has fought so hard to achieve.
The bottom line is, HB2 was never about bathrooms. Reading the law in its entirety, which most people won't, shines a light on the real issue and the true agenda of these state politicians. Confuse the public, create an issue and then slide in your discriminatory laws while everyone applauds your desire to protect them from an unseen, never before known threat.