Most people can agree that the US state of North Carolina’s recently-passed bathroom law – which forces people to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex assigned at birth, not their current sex or gender – is incredibly discriminatory, not to mention dangerous for transgender, gender fluid and other people.
While numerous celebrities, artists, companies, and others have publicly stepped forward to say they’re boycotting or not doing further business in the state until the law is reversed – including Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, George Clooney, the online payment company PayPal, and the National Basketball Association (which has a team in the state’s largest city, Charlotte) – and the US government has sued the state to have the law overturned (Barack Obama has publicly spoken out against the law numerous times), the sad fact remains that it was even passed in the first place.
America is not a theocracy, as some countries in the Middle East are, but one could be forgiven for thinking this based on North Carolina’s law. What the law is, unfortunately, is the product of the same thing that has led to the rise of Donald Trump: ignorance and hate.
Fear of the unknown is one of people’s biggest anxieties, and the sad truth is millions of Americans do not understand transgender or LGBTQIAA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, agender and more) issues. That’s worrying in itself, but there’s also a concern that America’s intolerant attitudes could seep into other countries because of its outsize influence on worldwide media and culture.
We cannot allow that to happen.
Already ignorance is rife amongst some people and in certain places in Aotearoa (see Lizzie Marvelly’s piece on racism in New Plymouth for a recent example). They should not be encouraged to be even more hateful.
We need to resist, to stand up and say discrimination is not OK – no matter where it may be.
So how can we counter such ignorance and hate? Education is one way, such as explaining to others why it’s important for transgender and LGBTQIAA+ people to be treated equally and allowed to use the bathroom just like other people. It could even be as simple as asking someone “how would you feel if you were transgender and weren’t able to use the bathroom when you really needed to?”
Another idea is being an ally. Support transgender and LGBTQIAA+ people with words, actions and/or understanding. It’s as simple as that. We’re all deserving of equal rights, after all.
Another option is to protest. Boycott businesses and establishments that discriminate against transgender people, or anyone. Intolerance has no place in the world, and we shouldn’t be encouraging it by giving intolerant people or organisations our money.
Oh, and if you don’t have to visit North Carolina: don’t, at least until the law is overturned.
Let’s call a spade a spade: North Carolina’s bathroom law could almost be a modern-day relative of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service (Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums, a 1933 Nazi law limiting the rights of Jewish and other non-Aryan people that was a precursor to the even more horrific 1935 Nuremberg Laws). That law was sadly seen by the (non-Jewish) public as discriminatory but relatively minor at the time. We all know the tragedy that unfolded just a few years later.
North Carolina’s law is a proverbial slippery slope, one that leads to a very dark – and dangerous – place.
Let’s stop it before it becomes worse.
Let’s fight it with love.
Let’s say no to ignorance.
Let’s say no to hate.