In March, North Carolina’s legislature passed a controversial new law reversing the effects of a Charlotte ordinance that had previously protected the rights of individuals who identify as LGBT. Among other things, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (better known as House Bill 2 or H.B. 2) made it illegal for transgender people to use public bathrooms that do not match the sex listed on their birth certificates, sparking national outrage and causing multiple corporations to boycott the state.
In a recent essay for Mother Jones, Charlie Comero – a 35-year-old trans man who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina – explained how this law has affected him personally, and in the process, perfectly nailed why H.B. 2 makes it dangerous for trans individuals to use a public restroom in North Carolina.
"Where do I go to the bathroom now? It’s literally against the law for me to use the men’s room, and it’s also risky," Comero writes. "Even though I’m more than a year on testosterone – I’m getting facial hair, my hair has receded a little – I still don’t always pass as male. Or do I use the women’s room, follow the law, and clearly make people uncomfortable?"
The brilliant but heartbreaking way Comero has chosen to deal with the problem is by passing out cards that explain what he’s doing in the women’s bathroom. In fact, the idea went viral late last month – but, as he explains, the cards don’t always work, because people don’t always accept them.
"[That’s] what I’m most afraid of: When they don’t say anything and just ignore me and leave, I’m afraid to leave the bathroom and to be met by that woman’s boyfriend or husband or an authority figure," he writes. "Because I could easily be socked."
Even worse, not only is H.B. 2 discriminatory against LGBT individuals, but it also prevents individual cities from enacting local ordinances that might reverse it.
"HB2 isn’t just about bathrooms," Comero concludes. "It’s stripping away all city ordinances that are in place to protect marginalized folks. Women, including those who aren’t transgender, are starting to realize this affects them, too. It puts all of us at risk unless you’re a white man."
You can read the rest of Comero’s essay on Mother Jones.
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