In North Carolina, Backlash Against Anti-LGBT Bill Continues

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Mitch Xia, one of the organizers of the protests in Chapel Hill on March 29, leads the march up Franklin Street.

March 31 marks the seventh annual International Transgender Day of Visibility, which honors the transgender community and helps raise awareness of the discrimination and the social barriers faced by transgender people. But this year, a wave of protests has overshadowed celebrations in North Carolina, where state lawmakers recently signed off on one of the most restrictive anti-LGBT laws in the country.

The North Carolina law, House Bill 2 (HB2), limits the use of multi-occupancy bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities to a person’s “biological sex” and excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from the list of groups protected from discrimination in public accommodations.

“The government’s priorities are the protection of its citizens, especially its women and children,” said North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest during a recent interview with CNBC’s Squawk on the Street. Forest went on to describe transgender and gender non-conforming people as sexually deviant and dangerous. The move by state lawmakers denies legal protections against discrimination to transgender women, men, and children and also manages to resurrect the oft-repeated (and depressingly effective) “bathroom predator myth” that helped facilitate the overturning of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance last fall.

Transgender advocates say the measures are expressly designed to further marginalize and demean transgender people. LGBT activists and their allies in the Tar Heel State and across the country have banded together on social media, especially through outlets like Twitter, under the hashtags #WeAreNotThis and #RepealHB2, to show solidarity with the transgender community.

A coalition of civil-rights groups has also announced a lawsuit against the state, arguing that HB2 is “explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law.” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the likely Democratic challenger to Republican Governor Pat McCrory in the state’s 2016 gubernatorial race, recently announced that he would not defend the law in court.

The national backlash has forced state legislators to reach out to national media outlets in an attempt to control the fallout. But the explanations did not come soon enough to save the state from serious political and economic repercussions. Earlier this week, the governors of Vermont, New York, and Washington state (and a number of other state and local leaders) banned all nonessential government travel to North Carolina. Several national companies have also publicly objected to the law, which may open the door to boycotts unless unless the law is repealed.

Following McCrory’s signing of HB2 on March 23, protesters held rallies in opposition to the law across the state. Photographer Jenny Warburg documented the protests in Raleigh on March 24 and Chapel Hill on March 29.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Hundreds of protesters blocked the street in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, North Carolina. At least five protesters who chained themselves together in the street were arrested.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters gathered in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 24 to protest HB2.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

The protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 24 was organized by North Carolina Black Lives Matter and the Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

The March 24 protest against HB2 in Raleigh, North Carolina

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 24

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters gathered in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh on March 24.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

The protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 24 was organized by North Carolina Black Lives Matter and the Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Salma Mirza and Jade Brooks, two of those arrested for civil disobedience, chained themselves together in front of the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh on March 24.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Zakyree Wallace, one of the organizers of the Chapel Hill protest, speaks at Peace and Justice Plaza before the march up Franklin Street.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters hold signs in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on March 29.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters march up Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on March 29.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

At Franklin Street and Columbia Street—Chapel Hill's main intersection—protesters formed a circle and held a rally.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters speak at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia in Chapel Hill on March 29.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

The March and Rally Agains HB2 blocked the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets in Chapel Hill on March 29.

(Photo: Jenny Warburg)

Protesters in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, rally against HB2 on March 29.

 

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