Opponents target North Carolina transgender bathroom law

Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:03am EDT
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By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - For 20-year-old Payton McGarry, a transgender man and college student, the North Carolina law barring him from using public bathrooms consistent with his gender identity means a routine part of life now dictates his day.

He limits how much he drinks to avoid using a bathroom away from home. He looks for gender-neutral restrooms at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he attends, but has missed instruction time when he cannot find one in his classroom buildings.

"There is a lot of insecurity about being in public spaces," the accounting and business major said in a telephone interview. "If I know I’m going to be out an extended period of time, I just don’t drink a lot."

On Monday, McGarry and other opponents of the law, known as House Bill 2, or HB 2, will ask a federal judge in Winston-Salem to block enforcement of its bathroom provisions while the legal fight against the full measure, enacted in March, plays out.

North Carolina is the only state in the country to mandate that people use multiple-occupancy public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, placing it at the forefront of the latest civil rights frontier in America.

The restrictions put transgender people, particularly students at public schools, in an untenable position, said Chris Brook, one of the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers challenging the measure.

"It forces all trans kids in our state to choose between breaking the law and using the correct restroom or using the wrong restroom, which could put them in a perilous situation," he said.

Republican lawmakers have not been persuaded by such arguments, or boycotts of the state by corporations, conventions, entertainers and the National Basketball Association, which this month said it was pulling its 2017 all-star game from Charlotte in protest of the law, which has been decried by critics as discriminatory.   Continued...

People take a picture of a portable toilet art project protesting the North Carolina HB 2 bathroom bill during the "Politicon" convention in Pasadena, California, U.S. June 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon