Tag Archives: bathroom law

Texas Republican introduces bathroom bill

A Republican Texas state senator today introduced a bathroom bill that would prohibit transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly marked the proposed bill, named the “Texas Privacy Act,” as a top legislative priority, saying it’s necessary to protect public safety.

The bill is similar to North Carolina’s notorious House Bill 2, which made the state a pariah as well as a political flashpoint for much of last year. The law played a key role in flushing North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory out of office in November, when voters in the state narrowly elected former state Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democratic challenger who had called the law “a national embarrassment.”

The law also cost North Carolina millions in lost business. High-profile entertainers, such as Bruce Springsteen, canceled plans to perform in the state.

At least one business group in Texas warned today that the measure would hurt that state’s economy as well.

The Texas Privacy Act comes four months after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked a federal directive issued by the Obama administration requiring public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. That judgment was issued in a case brought by Texas, Wisconsin and nine other states challenging the directive.

Several days ago, O’Connor blocked another Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights, this time over health rules that social conservatives say could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs.

A coalition of religious medical organizations said the rules could force doctors to help with gender transition contrary to their religious beliefs or medical judgment. O’Connor agreed in his 46-page ruling, saying the rules place “substantial pressure on Plaintiffs to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures.”

Transgender rights advocates called that a far-fetched hypothetical, saying a person would not approach a doctor who lacked suitable experience and expertise.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund criticized the injunction as contrary to existing law and said it expects the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

“Judge O’Connor’s conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant,” said Ezra Young, the organization’s director of impact litigation.

O’Connor’s rulings and the Texas Privacy Act add to the rising fears of transgender people that more GOP-governed states will approve legislation limiting transgender rights and will reject proposals to expand such rights. Wisconsin Republicans are expected to take up a bathroom bill in the current legislative session, after dropping one last year.

Helping to fuel fears among transgenders is the uncertainty over the position that will be taken by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Many transgender people expect him to abandon or weaken the transgender protection efforts pursued by the Obama administration.

Trump sent mixed signals about his approach to transgender rights during his campaign, at one point saying transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever bathroom she preferred in one of his luxury buildings.

At the same time, Trump declined to repudiate North Carolina ‘s House Bill 2. He said such policy decisions should be left up to the states.

 

Investors representing $2.1 trillion join call to repeal anti-LGBT law

Some 60 investors representing $2.1 trillion in managed assets joined the NCAA, entertainers and more than 200 businesses in calling for North Carolina to repeal its law limiting LGBT protections against discrimination.

“While the U.S. economy continues to grow, quite frankly North Carolina appears to be headed for what I would call a state-government-inflicted recession,” said Matt Patsky, chief executive officer of Trillium Asset Management. Trillium has more than $2 billion in assets under management.

Patsky spoke this week at a news conference alongside some of the investors who signed a statement calling for repeal of the law known as HB2. Trillium was one of the organizers of the statement, along with environmental research group Croatan Institute and the New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer. Stringer was unable to attend because of a New York ban on travel to North Carolina, Patsky said.

“As long-term investors, we can’t sit idly by as HB2 undermines fundamental human rights at our expense,” Stringer said in the statement. “For the last 25 years, New York City’s pension funds have pushed more than 100 companies to enact non-discrimination policies that protect LGBTQ individuals and ensure they attract, retain, and promote the best and the brightest. These policies are essential if we want companies — and our economy — to succeed, and we can’t let a hate-filled law get in the way.”

State legislators were enraged when the Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance expanding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. During a one-day special session in March, Republicans passed a state law that blocks any municipality from expanding protections against sexual discrimination in public accommodations to LGBT people and ordered public schools and universities to ensure that students use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.

Earlier this month, Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP legislators offered to consider rescinding the law, but only if the Democrats who pushed for Charlotte’s ordinance would essentially admit they were wrong, something the council hasn’t done.

Meanwhile, the NBA pulled its All-Star Game from Charlotte. The NCAA earlier this month took the unprecedented step of pulling seven championship events from the state over its objection to the law. Two days later, the ACC did the same thing — relocating all 10 of its neutral-site championships from the state the conference has called home since its founding in 1953.

Performers including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Maroon 5 canceled concerts in North Carolina, and more than 200 business leaders signed a letter to McCrory. The Williams Institute, which is part of the UCLA School of Law, has said HB2 could cost the state as much as $5 billion in lost federal funding and business investment.

“This latest attack on North Carolina values is being coordinated by the same people who manage the New York City pension fund that is on the verge of an ‘operational failure,’ according to a recent report,” McCrory said in a statement released by his campaign. “For New York hedge fund billionaires to lecture North Carolina about how to conduct its affairs is the height of hypocrisy.

McCrory is seeking re-election in a campaign against Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, who opposes the law.

Some clients are seeking “North Carolina-free portfolios,” including divestment of municipal bonds, Patsky said, and he expects that number to grow if the law isn’t repealed.

Those who signed the letter include representatives of North Carolina-based groups such as Investors’ Circle and the Mary Babcock Reynolds Foundation. Others who signed are from Morgan Stanley Investment Management, John Hancock Investments and RBC Wealth Management.

“This fallout is real,” said Bonny Moellenbrock, executive director of Investors Circle, which she said has invested $200 million in more than 330 start-ups. “It has had a devastating impact on our reputation and that has a direct impact on entrepreneurs’ ability to grow their business here.”

Anti-gay pastor who denounced Orlando victims charged with molestation

A anti-gay Christian pastor who said victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting got “what they deserve” faces charges of molesting a young male member of his congregation.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Ken Adkins, 56, on one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation on Aug. 26. He’s currently being held at the Glynn County Jail.

A special agent told The Florida Times Union that the investigation is focused on molestations that allegedly occurred at Adkins’ church, in a vehicle and at a victim’s home.

On June 16, Adkins tweeted, “Been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!” The tweet has since been removed and Adkins’ Twitter account is now private.

Adkins has a history of anti-gay activism. He opposed expansion of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include LGBT people. Adkins posted crude cartoons on Twitter of people who backed the expansion, including one depicting pro-expansion officials in a bathroom stall.

The anti-gay pastor is also an outspoken supporter of the North Caroline “bathroom bill,” which forces transgender people to use public facilities designated for their birth sex rather than their sexual identity.

Adkins also has a history of public controversies. Last month a Georgia Court rejected Adkin’s latest bankruptcy filing and accused him of perjury in relation to the case.

Still, Adkins holds influence in Jacksonville and south Georgia politics. Florida Politics reported that the city’s chief financial officer tapped the pastor as part of his campaign team when he ran for mayor in 2006. A judicial candidate paid Adkins for consulting his campaign; Adkins and others in his faith community hurled charges of racism at the candidate’s opponent.

The June 12 attack on Pulse nightclub, which served a primarily LGBT clientele, was the largest mass shooting in the nation’s history. Gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 53 before he was shot and killed by local police.

People shattered by N.C. ‘bathroom law’ share their stories

A student who’s losing time in the classroom. A mother trying to show strength to her 8-year-old daughter. A reluctant protester led away in handcuffs.

These transgender residents of North Carolina were swiftly and directly affected by the new state law that limits protections for LGBT people and mandates that transgendered people must use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in many public buildings.

This week, the federal government warned that the so-called “bathroom law” violates federal civil rights laws, but the state’s GOP leaders say they won’t change it. LGBT leaders refer to such laws as “potty politics,” because they’re used to rile up evangelical voters over a made-up problem.  Wisconsin’s GOP lawmakers have attempted to pass a similar law here.

Some transgender people say they’re suffering not only from the bathroom law’s practical effects, but also from the emotional consequences of the state regulating deeply personal aspects of their identities.

Here are some of their stories.

A VETERAN

“I spent 7 ½ years defending everyone’s freedom, just to come home and have my own revoked,” said Veronica O’Kelly, a transgender woman living in Durham.

The infantry soldier served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq before leaving the Army in 2015, according to discharge documents she showed to The Associated Press.

Now, she’s trying to decide whether to follow through on plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — where she wouldn’t be allowed to use women’s restrooms — to finish her bachelor’s degree.

She began transitioning in the early 2000s while attending college in Buffalo, New York, and living with her parents. They didn’t agree with her gender identity, she said, so she moved out.

To support herself, she said, she joined the Army as a man, slipping into “a very alpha-male environment.” She had yet to undergo any medical treatments and presented herself as her birth sex.

“I had a wardrobe full of clothes, and I got rid of it all,” she said. “No one had any idea.”

Wearing a purple blouse and lipstick during a recent interview, she said the routine of military life helped her think less about her gender dysphoria, but she’s resumed her transition since leaving the service. She was accepted at UNC and planned to enroll this fall. Then the bathroom law passed: “It was like the legs were cut out from under me,” she said.

A COLLEGE STUDENT

After Payton McGarry enrolled at UNC-Greensboro, he joined campus bands and a music-oriented fraternity. He was in his sophomore year, working toward business and accounting degrees, when the bathroom law passed in March.

“I felt very shaken,” he said. “I felt like everything I had built myself up on as a man had been called into question by the legislature: ‘You’re not man enough to use the men’s bathroom.””

McGarry, who wants to finish at UNC-Greensboro and go to law school, said he has complied with the provision that bars him from using multi-stall men’s restrooms on campus, even though he previously used them without problems. He has had to leave campus in the middle of class because some buildings have no single-user restrooms.

“I’m missing out on instructional time I’m paying $20,000 a year to get,” said McGarry, a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the bathroom law.

McGarry said he tried the alternative — using women’s restrooms despite his masculine appearance — in high school while transitioning to life as a man.

“I would be screamed at. I would be shoved and pushed,” he said. “You never knew when you’d go into a bathroom and be beaten up. No one should have to go through that.”

A MOTHER

Erica Lachowitz was leaving for work about two years ago when her daughter, then 6, helped convince her it was time to take a crucial step in living her identity.

“She said: ‘Mommy, Mommy, why are you wearing a suit to work? … You’re not a boy,’” said Lachowitz, a 40-year-old transgender woman who was then wearing men’s clothes by day at a Charlotte-area company that makes doorway technology for offices and other buildings.

Since then, Lachowitz’s company has supported her as she transitioned to living full-time as a woman. Under the new law, private companies can still set their own policies.

Now, Lachowitz’s focus is on raising her daughter to have good values, which sometimes means frank conversations about what’s on the news: “All she sees on TV is … ‘no men in the women’s room.’”

“She doesn’t understand the hatred toward me,” Lachowitz said. “She says: ‘You’re not a man. I don’t get it. Why do they think you’re a man? You don’t want to lie anymore.’”

A PROTESTER

Asheville social worker Stephen Wiseman’s family has mountain roots that extend back nine generations. The transgender man wants to stay in western North Carolina, so that means advocating for change.

When the General Assembly reconvened for its legislative session last month, he drove to Raleigh to join those protesting the bathroom law, chanting and holding signs outside Republican House Speaker Tim Moore’s office. He initially didn’t plan to risk arrest — partly because he said jail can be dangerous for transgender people. But at Moore’s doorway, he felt it was important to join those who entered the office and refused to leave.

They were led away in plastic handcuffs on misdemeanor charges and held for several hours.

Wiseman, 37, lives with his wife and dog in a neighborhood of ranch homes near the Blue Ridge Parkway where families ride bikes and have yard sales.

“I’m just a normal guy. I walk my dog and go to church,” he said.

Hearing the rhetoric surrounding the new law was devastating: “It’s real hard to hear every single day that you’re a perversion. Because that’s what this bill says.”

A BUSINESS OWNER

Angela Bridgman, 44, moved her small medical-billing and support business to North Carolina in 2014.

“It seemed to be becoming a more inclusive place,” she said. “It’s not like I just threw a dart at a map.”

But because of the new law, she frequently carries around her Illinois birth certificate, which she changed to reflect her female gender after surgery a few years ago.

She was fired from a New Jersey company years ago after coming out to co-workers and starting to wear women’s attire, she said, and she later dropped out of a private Kentucky university after a dean told her to use the men’s restroom.

Those are experiences she wishes no one else would have to face, but the North Carolina law excludes gender identity from statewide workplace protections.

“I wound up so severely depressed, I could barely even get out of bed,” she said. “I’ve built myself back a lot since then. It took a long time.”

Those experiences helped drive her to become self-employed: “I was tired of being turned down for jobs.”

She said she would like to add employees to her company, but she has misgivings about the business-related fees and taxes going to government officials who support the law.

“It’s just one more insult,” she said. “I pay world-class taxes, and for that I get to be a second-class citizen.”

A STATE EMPLOYEE

Even before North Carolina’s bathroom law was enacted, Joaquin Carcano took precautions when traveling to rural areas for work. His girlfriend had insisted that he call her and keep an open phone line when he stopped at gas stations after a clerk verbally accosted him.

Carcano, a 27-year-old transgender man, works for UNC-Chapel Hill overseeing a project that provides health education and HIV testing. After the law passed, he was in a difficult position — there are no single-use restrooms on his floor.

Carcano said he joined the legal challenge to help counteract the message from the law’s supporters, who have suggested criminals might try to use the wrong bathroom to target women and children.

“What about our safety and protection?” he said of transgender people. “We deserve that right.”