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Avoiding the transgender mistakes of the Queen City

Urine or Out

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As the battle for transgender equality continues, it is imperative to consider the mess in which the state of North Carolina currently finds itself. Charlotte was ground zero for the transgender battle in that state where the City Council there passed Ordinance 7056 which allowed people to use whatever restroom, locker room, or public facility that they wished regardless of their gender. While they were touted as heroes among progressives at that time, they basically just accepted praise and applause for dressing up a can of worms.

To be fair, the State's attempt to fix the legislation was not much better. They simply swung the pendulum back in the other direction. However, we cannot ignore the Charlotte City Council's poor attempt at legislation.

The original Charlotte ordinance amended chapters 2, 12, and 22 of the city's code doing nothing really extraordinary but adding "marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression" to the classic discrimination prohibitions which generally read "race, gender, religion," et cetera in every municipal code across the country. In other words, Charlotte recognized gender identity and expression as being deserving of public protection. No big deal. However, it did one more significant thing. Ordinance 7056 deleted an existing section which excluded bathrooms, bathhouses, and locker rooms, such as the YMCA, from being subjected to the anti-discrimination codes. It's something that exists in most city codes which basically keeps men out of bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers where women and girls are doing their business and vice versa. It allowed for privacy based on gender. This is where Charlotte failed.

In response to Ordinance 7056, the state proposed North Carolina House Bill 2 which gained national notoriety as "HB2." It sounds like a disease, but it reestablished those original protections. However, because it overpowered Charlotte's ordinance, it quickly gained the public reputation of being anti-equality and anti-transgender. HB2 has cost the state of North Carolina the ACC basketball championship location. It cost Governor Pat McCrory his re-election. It even cost entertainment as musicians such as Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen cancelled concerts in that state in protest of HB2. However, HB2 and its repeal, which has sinister underpinnings, would not exist without Ordinance 7056's shortcomings.

The Charlotte City Council was more interested in striking a blow for equality than crafting strong legislation. They bypassed the extreme difficulty of crafting gender-based legislation in a world where personal gender identification is being accepted by simply deleting protections that have always existed instead of editing or creating an alternative. They exchanged protection for the vast majority for protection for a small conclave. While everyone deserves protection and equality, fixing a hole in one place while creating a larger hole in another is not progress. It's stagnation and it's poor politicking.

Realize that saying a person has the right to choose their gender is not the same as saying boys have the right to go into a girl's locker room and shower with them. However, that's exactly what Charlotte did with their lazy legislating via Ordinance 7056. By simply deleting the restriction of anti-discrimination laws for bathrooms and such, Charlotte made it legal for boys and men to share locker rooms with little girls if they wanted. There was no filter or qualification for this freedom. The possibility legally existed and we all know there are those who would take advantage. Furthermore, their short-sightedness is what allowed conservatives to strike back with HB2 which later resulted in the repeal of HB2, making it harder for transgender equality to exist in the future in North Carolina.

The tragedy is that the problem was never about transgenderism. A desire to keep men out of locker rooms and showers where girls are changing is not an attack on transgenderism or progress. It's a recognition that sexuality and genitalia should maintain a certain amount of privacy and respect. While a comfort with nudity and sexuality is anyone's freedom, it should not be forced on those who desire privacy from members of the opposite sex. That's Trump strategy. That's, "nobody knew equality was so difficult." Let's not be as ignorant as 45.

As we continue to move forward and create a society that is increasingly inclusive and fair, it is important that we do not get lazy and steamroll common sense protections for the masses in exchange for a short-lived victory. Let's avoid the mistakes of Charlotte and North Carolina with well-conceived, thorough approaches to equality and turn this trickle of progress into a full stream.

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