Indiana Governor Mike Pence must be breathing a bit easier right now. It was just a year ago that his zealous support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act threatened to undermine every business sector in the state,
Of course, that was a year ago. Governor Pence has signed legislation that revises the law to prevent potential discrimination. Although the revised law doesn’t outlaw LGBT discrimination, the stench around Indiana lawmakers has abated because a year has passed since the glare of a media spotlight. Now, the spotlight is focusing on North Carolina, where House Bill 2 is threatening that state’s fiscal health.
For Indiana, the rebellion was led by sports teams, including national gatherings like NASCAR. With North Carolina, it is led by musicians and, of course, business. In just the past two weeks a slew of venues was cancelled or sidelined, including concerts by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Maroon 5 and Itzhak Perlman.
Business and enterprise has a slightly longer time horizon than concert bookings, but the handwriting is on the wall: PayPal withdrew plans for a new Charlotte operations center because it opposes the law; the center would have created more than 400 jobs for the city. Deutsche Bank froze plans to add 250 jobs.
How bad is the public backlash? The Charlotte Observer reports that House Bill 2 could cost the state 5 billion dollars. That billion with a ‘B’.
North Carolina House Bill 2
Yes. This is the bill that thumbs its nose at the Obama administration after the White House issued guidance on common sense gender policies in public restrooms, especially in public schools, where it threatened the withdrawal of federal funds.
I won’t pretend that the issue is black & white. After all, a frequently repeated argument asserts that this ruling (or clarification of Title 9, as the White House characterizes it) permits a pervert to enter a girl’s bathroom by dressing as a woman or claiming to be transgendered, and that such entry poses a threat to children. The argument sounds reasonable—at least, that is, until you think about it for 10 seconds.
To illustrate my own take on the “Bathroom Bill”, I will support the common sense rights of transgendered individuals in using facilities that match their gender (as opposed to their birth sex)—by countering the arguments espoused by this angry, bipolar transphobic who is yelling his opinions at a Target store. He may be more vocal on the issue, but his logic is identical to every argument for shutting down Title 9 protections.
Caleb is the WildDuck reader who referred me to this video. He exclaimed “Look at this ignorant nut and how a shopper takes him on,” This is my response to Caleb and anyone who is sitting on the fence about LGBT self determination…
Although you and I both disagree with the shouter in this video, Caleb, the term “ignorant” is not my first choice to describe this guy. I think that he is either a nut case, or he is off medication. But let’s consider his key argument: He claims that men can dress as women and take pictures of children in a kid’s bathroom.
- I have not seen a kid’s-only bathroom—not even at Target. And so, I think that he is referring to the women’s bathroom.
- There has always been the potential for a man to dress as a women and slip into a women’s bathroom. If the guy looks passable as a girl (whether transgendered or not), this activity cannot be easily prevented by Target or by turning back the transgender/Title 9 interpretation. After all, no one checks identity or gender when a customer ducks into a bathroom.
- A pervert can just as easily take pictures of little boys. Just as with homosexual clergy, the proclivity to ogle little boys may be more common then it is with girls.
- If a child is young (i.e. if she is defenseless), a parent or bigger sibling is generally in the bathroom too. When parent is with child, there may be a stranger taking covert photos, but who the h*ll cares? He doesn’t pose a threat—and he is more likely to be identified and reported. [continue below photo]
For all of these reasons, an inclusive and tolerant Title 9 interpretation is reasonable. The people who oppose tolerance are those who hate the idea that transgendered people exist (or worse: want them to be “cured”) . They oppose rights for personal and religious reasons. But, religion and exclusion have no place in government policy.
I admit that I paused to reflect on this issue—and a closely related issue regarding public school funding last week. But my reflection was brief. Transgendered individuals aren’t hurting anyone, nor damaging the fabric of society. Moreover, the opportunity to photograph kids in a bathroom is not increased by permitting individuals to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. That few people are likely to even know that their gender differs from their birth anatomy, makes this issue a red herring.
A Wild Duck Analysis
The fervent zeal to turn back transgender guidance is based on religion, hate, ignorance or intolerance. These traits have no place in government. It can be difficult to separate our fears from our better judgement, but these traits must never influence the law. Each member of society deserves civil rights. Congregate with whomever you wish, but our community laws should not attempt to repress benign behavior.
Related ■ Bad for Business:Laws that Bully LGBT
Ellery Davies is a recovering homophobic. Fortunately, recovery started
decades before Indiana and North Carolina stuck their heads in the sand.