Bathroom Stall

It’s intermission at a concert in downtown Asheville. I head toward the women’s restroom. A cop standing at the door is checking birth certificates, which those of us in North Carolina have begun carrying on any day that we think we might have to use a bathroom.

bathroom 3

OK, I’m kidding. That didn’t happen. That couldn’t happen. House Bill 2, which is both malicious and discriminatory (see “Privacy Invasion,” posted on April 1), is also absurdly unenforceable. This week a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department told an NPR (National Public Radio) reporter that every officer on the force would have to be pulled off the streets and onto bathroom patrol to make such a law work. And they’ve been issued no guidelines about what to do if they actually catch people in the act of—God forbid—relieving themselves illegally.

Not to mention that a fair number of us would have to search long and hard to find our birth certificates. Or that, even without the “biological sex” check at the door, during intermission at any symphony concert, bluegrass jam, dramatic production, or sports event in Asheville, the line for the women’s restroom is already halfway to the Blue Ridge Parkway.    Continue reading

Privacy Invasion

On Easter Sunday, during our sharing of joys and concerns at Circle of Mercy, a longtime member reminded us through her tears that her teenaged transgender nephew moved here to Asheville, North Carolina, from a Navy-centric city on the Virginia coast to be in a safer place. I had breathed a sigh of relief when we welcomed him a few years ago and facilitated connections with Youth OutRight, an empowered and empowering local LGBTQ community.

But on March 23, four days before Easter, some of his safety disappeared. That’s when our state’s Republican-dominated legislature pushed through House Bill 2, overruling a non-discrimination ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte and placing North Carolina in the epicenter of a national controversy.

all-gender bathroom sign

The bill is troubling in many respects, including the state’s exercise of authoritarian power. But perhaps its most heinous aspect—and certainly the one that has riveted the most attention on this piece of legislature widely known as “the bathroom bill”—is the requirement that transgender individuals use public bathroom facilities that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Democratic lawmakers walked off the Senate floor in a united display of opposition. Protests erupted across the state, in cities and rural communities, in front of the governor’s mansion and the state legislature. Citizens of Asheville, which passed an anti-discrimination ordinance long ago, vowed to ignore the state’s ruling and even beef up protective local laws in an act of public defiance. Continue reading