On April 28, Democratic North Carolina state legislators introduced three bills meant to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discriminations, outlaw conversion therapy and completely repeal HB2.
In the wake of the “bathroom bill” signed by former Governor Pat McCrory in 2016, many LGBTQ North Carolinians have faced struggles regarding their identities.
For example, some state employees and their families are denied coverage under the state’s health care plan, which does not allow treatment for transgender individuals. Additionally, even under revised DMV guidelines, transgender North Carolinians cannot obtain ID cards and drivers’ licenses with their correct gender.
“It is frustrating and humiliating, really dehumanizing to have people making decisions about your life and your health who know nothing about your life,” said Candis Cox, a transgender activist who has become one of the state’s most prominent LGBTQ voices, to NC Policy Watch. “But for most of us, that’s the way we’ve lived our entire lives—someone telling us who we should be, how we should be and telling us that we’re wrong.”
Some people hope that the bills filed in the legislature will have a tangible effect on the lives of the LGBTQ community.
“As a transgender woman I know that the bills filed today will have a very real impact on the lives and legal equality of LGBTQ North Carolinians,” said Allison Scott, director of policy for the Campaign for Southern Equality, to NC Policy Watch. “So many attacks on the LGBTQ community are linked, rooted in the desire to wave us away. The company that fires someone because of who they are, the business that refuses to sell something to a same-sex couple, the so-called ‘conversion’ therapist who tries to force someone to change a core part of themselves. The North Carolina lawmakers who try to tell me that I can’t use the women’s restroom.”
Recently, Kanautica Zayre-Brown, a 37-year-old transgender woman living in North Carolina was held for 25 days in solitary confinement in a men’s prison instead of being transferred for her safety.
Zayre-Brown, who has undergone gender reassignment surgery as well as hormonal therapy, feared for her safety in the men’s facility. Zayre-Brown and her husband, Dionne Brown, are concerned that her appearance will make her a target for harassment, assault or rape.
The state refuses to recognize Zayre-Brown’s gender and continues to use her male name, which she has legally changed.
Cox, who has spoken with Zarye-Brown, believe this is indicative of a fundamental misunderstanding within the government about the lives of transgender individuals.
“Not everyone who is transgender decides to have surgery,” said Cox to NC Policy Watch. “I chose to do so. But I was no less a transgender woman on the day before I had my surgery than I was the day after. It is who I am. Not everyone has access to surgery. Not everyone can afford it. Not everyone wants to do it. But for our government, right now, that is how they are deciding who is transgender.”
The bills, now that they have been introduced, have been assigned to the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House for further action.