Hi, everybody (kudos if you read that as Dr. Nick). Unless you live under a rock, you know that the North Carolina General Assembly recently passed a law that, among other things, prevents people who are transgender from using the bathroom that best fits their gender identity. Since I’ve written about this over on my own blog (The Progressive Redneck), Jasmin asked me to put together a few words on the law and what it means for our little community here at Love Wins.
I suppose the best place to start would be a definition of “transgender.” According to GLAAD, it is “an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.” Basically, these are the folks we used to refer to as “transsexual” (not to mention other more derogatory terms). Transgender is often confused with “cross-dresser” or “transvestite,” but that’s not correct. People who cross-dress tend to do so for sexual or emotional satisfaction, while still identifying as their assigned sex. As previously stated, people who are transgender do not.
Here’s a fun fact, those of us who do identify with our assigned sex are what’s known as “cisgender.” You’ve probably heard that word a time or two lately and you may or may not have known what it meant. I know I didn’t until a few years ago when I found out I actually had a son instead of a daughter. In the conversation which followed that revelation, he told me that for as long as he could remember, he’d felt more like a boy than girl. I wasn’t surprised, by that remark or that he was trans. Looking back, both were plain to see. His sister had remarked on it more than once (before he came out), saying he was the boy I had always wanted but never had. Funny how things work out, huh?
Parker’s story isn’t uncommon; most trans people report similar experiences. And, science is beginning to back them up. Recent studies are showing that the brains of trans folks are structured and tend to operate more like those of the gender with which they identify than those of the assigned sex. And, this is prior to any hormone therapy or other treatment. It seems they are, in fact, “born that way.”
So, now that we have a (very) basic understanding of this ‘”transgender” thing, what does House Bill 2 (aka “The Private Facilities Privacy and Securities Act) mean to the members of our community? A lot, actually. For those of us who have jobs, we have lost the ability to seek remedy for discriminatory acts in the state court system. For those of us who are LGBTQ, we have lost protections in the work place and in housing that several municipalities had enacted. The same goes for veterans; HB 2 covers only “race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap.”
But, the group it immediately impacts are our friends who are trans*. Going to the bathroom in public, a relatively easy thing for us cis folk, is an incredibly stressful time for them. Mostly because, when they do, they are exposed to a higher risk of harassment, humiliation, and even violence. A study conducted in the Washington DC metro area found that the 70% of trans* people who responded had suffered some sort of negative attention when attempting to use the bathroom. 70%, y’all. That’s bad.
It gets worse, however. Nine percent of the respondents said that attention had been physical, as in being cornered, intimidated, kicked, and punched. One person even reported being sexually assaulted! Other people reported being denied access to the restroom, which is not out of the ordinary. And, while it may sound like small potatoes next to being raped or beaten up, it has negative consequences, too. Mostly in the form of bladder infections and other preventable medical conditions.
Although HB 2 says nothing about religion, it is a sure bet that it’s roots are religious in nature. Numerous other bills that have set out to curtail rights for people who are LGBTQ have cited “religious liberty” as a reason for doing so. But, does the Bible actually say anything about people who are transgender? No, not really. The closest we can get is Paul’s comment about “soft men” in 1 Corinthians 6:9. But, he was actually referring to the temple prostitution that had pervaded the city of Corinth in his day, not trans folks.
Now, the Bible may not mention people who are trans*, but it does have something to say about inclusion. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And, in the 13th chapter of John, Jesus told his followers, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” He didn’t qualify it by placing limits on who to love.
He said love each other. That’s it.
Here at Love Wins, our doors are open to anyone and everyone. They are especially open to people who are LGBTQ because they are the most vulnerable among us. And for us, no matter what laws pass down on Jones Street, welcoming and loving people will never change.