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North Carolina’s HB2 Repeal Rings Hollow for the Transgender Community

North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill to repeal the state’s controversial bathroom law on Thursday, but it doesn’t do anything to protect transgender people.

Both the House and Senate passed the bill, a deal brokered by new North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Republican legislators, after much debate. The new bill repeals 2016’s House Bill 2 that required people to use public facilities based on the sex listed on their birth certificate, but critics are already calling the new bill “HB2.0”.

“IT WASN’T A PERFECT DEAL OR MY PREFERRED SOLUTION, BUT AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP FOR OUR STATE.” – NC GOVERNOR ROY COOPER

The bill leaves the regulation of bathroom access in the hands of the state’s legislators and it prevents local governments from passing any non-discrimination ordinances relating to private employment or public accommodations until December 2020. This effectively prevents cities such as Charlotte from passing any transgender protections ordinances like the one they repealed in an attempt to help both Cooper and former Governor Pat McCrory get a repeal deal done with legislators back in December. That attempt failed miserably.

(Photo: equalitync.org)

Governor Cooper made a statement about the new law. “It wasn’t a perfect deal or my preferred solution, but an important first step for our state,” Cooper said. He was hoping to add LGBT protections to the new bill but it was not a possibility given the fact that Republicans control the majority of the legislature and most are against such protections. Republican House Speaker Tim Moore felt a little better about the deal saying, “Nobody is 100% happy, but I will say I’m 95% happy.” He also commented that the state didn’t need a “patchwork” of anti-discrimination laws. “We’ve got until 2020 to work this out,” Moore said.

“WHAT WE WITNESSED WAS A LAST-MINUTE IDEA THROWN TOGETHER WITH LITTLE THOUGHT OF PROTECTING TRANSGENDER RESIDENTS.” – GLAAD

Many see the new deal as a veiled attempt at getting corporations, sports entities and performers back to the state after reports surfaced that North Carolina will lose over $3.7 billion as a result of HB2. Also pending is the NCAA’s decision whether they will hold any events in the state, as they will be deciding where to hold their championships from 2018-2022 and have been outspoken about not holding them in North Carolina because of the law. The NCAA already pulled their 2016-2017 events. It remains to be seen if the new deal is enough to convince the organization to hold their events in North Carolina.

Activists have already been voicing their displeasure with the new bill. “This so-called ‘deal’ is politics at its worst and was only made as the state faced losing key NCAA events and further economic damage. What we witnessed was a last-minute idea thrown together with little thought of protecting transgender residents,” GLAAD said in a statement. “Disappointed the #NCGA just voted for a bill which fails to end LGBT discrimination in a move to put basketball over civil rights,” the ACLU said on Twitter. The executive director of Equality NC, Chris Sgro, called the agreement a “shell piece of a legislation.” He also pointed out that no LGBT groups were consulted when the new bill was formed.

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