Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 32, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 22, 2016 Page: 22 of 52
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■ commUNlTY voices
Telling ugly lies to hide a simple truth
ITI he easiest sale on any political issue is to
frame it as critical to the safety of children,
JL and that could become key to a civil liber-
ties battle brewing nationwide that pivots on
It's a discussion that most Americans simply
can't understand because they have never met a
transgender individual. They misunderstand the
nature of transgender people and can easily fall
victim to the conservative argument that the "in-
nocence of children" is at stake.
The inclusion of children's safety to the debate
came to my attention just recently when I saw a
post on Facebook by a relative who had shared a
graphic by Political Insider saying "men do not be-
long in the bathroom with girls."
I realized then that the battle over transgender
equality in North Carolina had spread in a partic-
ularly ugly way.
Conservatives, still smarting from losing the
marriage equality fight, seized on the transgender
issue in North Carolina, where state lawmakers
recently passed House Bill 2, commonly known as
the "bathroom bill." It bans transgender people
from using public restrooms corresponding to
their gender identity.
A transgender woman wearing feminine attire
will be forced to use men's restrooms under the
provisions of the law that also prohibits cities and
counties in North Carolina from adopting anti-dis-
crimination laws. Transgender men would corre-
spondingly use the women's restroom.
The North Carolina General Assembly hastily
met in a special session after the city of Charlotte
passed an ordinance protecting transgender peo-
ple. The state Assembly passed the controversial
bathroom bill in one day. Gov. Pat McCrory signed
the bill that night.
McCrory appeared on Meet the Press April 17, say-
ing the legislature had acted quickly to prevent the
Charlotte ordinance from going into effect April 1.
The governor defended the action, saying transgen-
der issues represent a "new social norm" that will
require more discussion before transgender people
can be integrated
rose to the forefront
after Houston voters
in November over-
turned an ordinance
warned men would
be using women's
restrooms if voters allowed the ordinance to remain
in place. "This is a national debate that has literally
come on in the last three months," the governor said.
It was a tough interview by host Chuck Todd,
and McCrory failed miserably in his attempts to
justify North Carolina's stance.
McCrory's critics view his reasoning as disin-
genuous, and they note he is battling to remain
governor, an office also being sought by Attorney
General Roy Cooper. Immediately after he left the
news program's set, McCrory, who has remained
largely out of sight in his home state since signing
the bill, sent out a contribution request saying he
had "defended North Carolina against the coordi-
nated campaign of attacks and selective outrage
from out-of-state special interests."
McCrory blames the Human Rights Campaign
and its influence over corporate America for a loss
of an estimated $40 million in business opportu-
nities since the passage of the law. Various corpo-
rations are either threatening to boycott the state
over the new law, or they have already pulled the
plug. Some estimate North Carolina could lose bil-
lions in revenue in the future.
The controversy is getting a lot of attention all
over the country, as a transgender woman from
Dallas returning from an HIV seminar recently
learned when she got bumped up to first class on
a flight home because a passenger objected to sit-
ting next to her.
That amused me because she is one of the least
threatening people I've met in the world of ac-
tivism. I doubt that the passenger would have
made such a comment without feeling embold-
ened by the conservative argument.
Now, lawmakers in seven other states are con-
sidering legislation similar to that enacted in
North Carolina: Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts,
Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
It might be that conservative activists feel the
need to escalate their attacks to include scare tac-
tics involving children because of the financial
backlash in North Carolina and the support of
high profile supporters like actor George Clooney
and New York Gov. .Andrew Cuomo.
My response to the fears about children is: Who
in their right mind would allow a child under the
age of 13 to go into a restroom for the general pub-
lic alone in the first place? Given the sort of ghastly
crimes involving assaults and abductions we learn
about every day, why would anyone not exercise
the greatest vigilance when it comes to children?
Attacking people who are merely trying to live
their lives as they feel destined instead of exercis-
ing due caution to protect children seems absurd.
Transgender women do not identify as men,
and society has never viewed them as "real men"
— not until it became politically expedient to do
so to back up conservative issues, hr the privacy
of a stall, why would anyone care?
Bven Republican presidential candidate Donald
Trump said this week on the Today show he ad-
vocates allowing people to use whatever rest-
rooms they choose. He noted there appeared to be
little if any concern about such practices until
North Carolina politicians made an issue of it.
I've encountered a lot of women in men's rooms
over the years because of long lines for women's
rooms. It really didn't bother me. People generally
go into restrooms for only one reason. Any specu-
lation beyond that is a little kinky. ■
David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than
three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff
reporter for Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek
Lake and writes for publications nationwide.
The Rare Reporter
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 32, No. 50, Ed. 1 Friday, April 22, 2016, newspaper, April 22, 2016; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1007231/m1/22/?q=%22bathroom+bill%22: accessed May 16, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.