Misguided Magic in Cynical Strategery: How North Carolina Officials Discriminate Against LGBTQ in the Name of Political Gains OR Politics as Usual

by Shaun Terry

Sadly, it’s no surprise that recent measures by Pat McCrory and his cronies have further attacked North Carolinians’ Civil Rights, helping to perpetuate the current power paradigm that leaves many North Carolinians in dire straits. The state government has recently rolled back abortion rights and voting rights. Now, in an irrational, blindingly hypocritical move, municipalities’ abilities to afford protections to LGBTQ have been stripped in what— if we weren’t having a Bizarro World moment — level-headed conservatives might refer to as “governmental overreach.”

According to Vox’s “North Carolina just passed one of the nation’s most anti-LGBTQ laws,” North Carolina’s bill does two things: bans municipal governments from passing laws to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ, and requires that people in North Carolina use restrooms that correspond with the sexes listed on their birth certificates. Some conservatives might claim that this is simply good, common sense legislation. To be sure, Media Matters’s 2014 article titled, “Debunking The Big Myth About Transgender-Inclusive Bathrooms” points out that an oft-cited concern in such efforts is that of women’s safety. The line of reasoning states that allowing men to arbitrarily enter women’s bathrooms, under the guise of their gender, will lead to increased incidence of sexual predation. But according to the article, the evidence doesn’t support the assertion. The evidence shows no correlation between propagation of gender-inclusive restrooms and increased incidence of sexual violence. So why the bill?

The existence of the transgender community challenges the Patriarchy, and the status quo more broadly, so it’s no wonder that leaders are “punching down.” As acceptance of the transgender community becomes widespread, so does acceptance that everyone doesn’t necessarily fit so neatly into the boxes that have been made available. Challenging conventional, restrictive categories might challenge everything, where the Power Elite are concerned, and there’s a way of harnessing this controversy to benefit those in power.

Recent studies, by John Hibbing and others, show that conservatives and liberals are fundamentally different; even cognitively and genetically so. One conclusion of recent research is that conservatives tend to be more fearful and averse to diversity and change. So it’s no wonder that conservative lawmakers seem to pretend to want to protect women (where were they on healthcare, abortion, the wage gap, and other issues that are so important for women?), when research shows that maybe they’re just not that into the LGBTQ community. Put simply, this is likely nothing more than the Power Elite trying to protect their hold on power. They do so by pandering to discriminatory views of some North Carolinians who are afraid of change.

But suppose that lawmakers’ assertion about the dangers of gender-inclusive restrooms held water. In a recent interview with NBC News, McCrory asked, “Would you want a man to walk into your daughter’s shower and legally be able to do that because mentally they think they are of the other gender?” Actually, it’s a matter of trading protections of some people against some “other” people instead for protections of those people against some other “other” people. Allow me to clarify: the law doesn’t protect women against men; that’s an oversimplification. The assumption that women need protection from men in public restrooms may follow from and contribute to socially constructed and perpetuated gender roles, but that’s another story. By requiring transgender people to use restrooms which correspond with sexes listed on their birth certificates, some transgender men will now be in women’s restrooms and some transgender women will now be in men’s restrooms. Why not protect women from transgender men if men are so doubtlessly, uncontrollably sexually predacious? Why not protect transgender women from certain harassment and violence that they’ll face by being forced to use men’s restrooms? Who are lawmakers protecting? Well, the answer is “no one,” but this doesn’t stop the hypocritical, bigoted overreach.

When the national government makes laws that conservatives are averse to, there’s no limit to kicking and screaming by those on the right. The long-held position of American conservatives claims that national social legislation impinges on states’ rights to regulate their states as they see fit. But for some reason, it’s perfectly fine for states to restrict municipalities from making laws to give rights to people. It’d be funny if it weren’t tragic.

So when McCrory and conservative lawmakers in Raleigh claim to be doing a moral service to society, realize that they’re not being rational, compassionate, or honest. All these conservative lawmakers are doing is denying vulnerable people the freedoms that many of us take for granted.