“We are only searching for safe spaces in this world” – transman, ACLU and others sue North Carolina over bathroom bill, removal of local LGBTQ protections
The ACLU of North Carolina, Equality North Carolina, and several transgender residents of The Tar Heel State have filed a law suit hoping to over turn a recently passed law which targets transgender people’s use of the restroom, as well as LGBTQ protections created by some NC cities.
House Bill 2 made headlines around the country when it was signed into law by the conservative Governor Pat McCrory last week despite massive pushback from LGBTQ activists locally and around the nation.
Today’s legal action hopes to be the first step in shutting down the law.
In a press conference held today, Chris Brook, ACLU of NC legal Director, called the law unconstitutional and said it “violates the 14th amendment, discriminates agianst sex and sexual orientation, and it is an invasion of privacy.” Brook also said it violates Title XI, a set of federal laws that govern public school funding from the federal government, because it discriminates on the basis of sex.
“The legislators who were voting on this act did not understand its provisions,” Brook said about the bill which was passed in about 12 hours in an extended session that cost NC taxpayers about $42,000. “With HB 2, Gov. McCrory and its supporters have sent a message that LGBT people are second class citizens who are undeserving of privacy, respect and dignity afforded to others in the state. That does not reflect NC values.”
Among those who spoke at a press conference today was 27-year-old Joaquín Carcaño (pictured below, center).
“I am a transgender man, but I am a man… that is something that can’t be stripped away by a bill such as this,” said Carcaño, who is listed as one of the plaintiffs on the suit. ”Through this bill, I have been denied a fundamental right that impacts me and others like me in this state, in my place of work and other parts of my daily life.”
A HIV project director at UNC-Chapel Hill, Carcaño said he was treated as a normal man until the passage of this law which now requires him to use the female restrooms despite his gender identity. The suit said Carcaño was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2013, the condition often associated with being transgender, and he has been living as a man since.
Carcaño stressed he was there representing himself, but also the many transwomen he knows and works with who “already face high levels of discrimination and violence that being here right now, that being in the public eye, would be a risk to their lives.”
“We are only searching for safe spaces in this world, and our home in NC should be one of them,” he said, describing high levels of anxiety he’s experienced since the bill was passed into law last week.
Gov. McCrory defend signing the law on twitter last week, calling it a “common sense privacy” issue.
“The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte,” read a press release from McCrory’s office sent out the day he signed the bill. McCrory called the protections added in Charlotte a “radical breach of trust and security”
“This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room,” he said,
According to the Charlotte Observer, the rule, passed in February of this year by a 7-4 vote, adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s list of protected classes and applies to places of public accommodation, such as bars, restaurants, taxis and stores, meaning these services could not be denied to someone because they are LGBTQ.
HB 2 effectively removes those protections and makes such discrimination legal.
The lawsuit filed this morning alleges the bill singles out “LGBT people for disfavored treatment” and explicitly writes “discrimination against transgender people into state law.”
“H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution,” reads the suit.
It also reads the law passed to block Charlotte and other localities from offering protections for LGBTQ people was “rife with procedural irregularities.”
“LGBT people are also harmed by H.B. 2 in that it strips them of or bars them from anti-discrimination protections under local law,” reads the suit which asks for a “declaratory judgment” that says H.B. 2 violates their constitutional and statutory rights to “equal protection liberty, dignity, autonomy and privacy.”
Details in the suit point to the irregularity in NC’s new law using Carcaño as a case study for the how it fails transgender North Carolinians.
The suit also read “determinations of sex can involve multiple factors, such as chromosomes, hormone levels, internal and external reproductive organs, and gender identity,” and “Gender identity is the primary determinant of sex.”
The suit seeks an injunction stopping the law from going into effect until the courts hear the case and release a verdict.
The North Carolina governor cited costs of litigation, noting that his state is also the defendant in a lawsuit filed against him by the Dept. of Justice on similar grounds.September 19, 2016
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