How Many People Support North Carolina’s HB2 Law?

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Instinct Magazine)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by former Gov. Bev Perdue. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

The outcry against North Carolina’s HB2 law, also known as the famously-derided “bathroom bill,” has been swift and fierce. But can we measure the reaction? And is it representative of the whole?

Fortunately, a recent poll provides some insight. CNN and ORC International polled 1K+ adults via phone (both landlines and cells), and asked those surveyed about North Carolina’s new law. Respondents also could self-identify as Democrat, Republican, or Independent. As the study notes, the sample was weighted to resemble the country as a whole.

When asked about equal protections for transpeople, 75% of respondents “favor law guaranteeing equal protection.” For equal protections for gays and lesbians, that number rose slightly to 80%.

Now, one might be tempted to correlate the former stat with the rise of transgender visibility in mainstream society. But that’s not the case. Respondents were also asked if they had a close family member or friend who’s transgender, and 80% did not. That’s huge! Things really are changing.

The U.S. Department of Justice Sues North Carolina over Controversial LGBT Law

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

The federal government has spoken, and it is not happy. Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state of North Carolina over its controversial HB2 law.

Quick recap: the non-infamous law bars any anti-discrimination legislation against any members of the LGBT community. Also commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” the law also decrees that any transgender person must use the bathroom of their assigned sex at birth instead of the one with which they identify. (For example, a transwoman would use the men’s restroom, regardless of her physical appearance.)

But what happened first is that the DOJ (led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina) gave North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, a.k.a. the one who started this whole mess, until Monday morning to negate the horrid new law. And guess what McCrory didn’t do?

Instead, McCrory decided to sue the DOJ, claiming that there needs to be legislation regulating “transgender bathroom use” (??) at the national level.

So guess what the DOJ did? The DOJ sued North Carolina right back.

This wasn’t completely out of the blue. The DOJ had previously threatened legal action if HB2 wasn’t repealed. The DOJ is now suing on the grounds that the bathroom restrictions discriminate against transgender people (no shit).

I’m very interested to see how this will play out. I have no doubt that justice will prevail, and McCrory will end up on the wrong side of the law/history. But how long will it take, and what other complications could come up?

 

North Carolina Passes LGBT Discrimination Law

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Instinct Magazine)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by former Gov. Bev Perdue. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

North Carolina Mayor Pat McCrory has now ensured that his state has made the news recently for all the wrong reasons: On Mar. 24th, he signed House Bill 2 into law, which overrides any local government’s anti-discrimination bills that benefitted the LGBT community. (The bill was introduced by the North Carolina State Legislature, which I’ve now refer to as the NCSL.) And not only did McCrory sign this into law, he did it in just one day.

Why is this a huge deal? For one, the NCSL has now blocked a measure that the city of Charlotte (the state’s largest city and the South’s banking hub) recently brought forth which banned discrimination against the LGBT community. Where others would see progress, the NCSL saw…inappropriate public restroom use?

“The Atlantic” breaks down what exactly this new law (ick!) entails:

It also prevents any local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances, mandates that students in the state’s schools use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, and prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.

Seriously, this new law is all kinds of trouble. But what really gets me is the notion of forcing transgender students to use the restrooms of the gender for which they were assigned at birth. The NCSL is perpetuating the myth that transpeople are pedophiles, and will follow children into public restrooms to ensure vulnerability. I don’t have to tell you how insane that is, do I?

McCrory’s also sending a statement that the capricious whims of the state government will rule any actions local governments make to better their own communities.

This measure will go into effect on Apr. 1st.

Real talk here: I’m from North Carolina. I haven’t lived there in years, but my parents and much of my extended family still resides there. I love going back to visit, but wouldn’t want to live back there again for various reasons. And this new law has given me yet another reason not to go back.

If North Carolina really wants to show that the state, and its residents, are progressive and accepting of all, the NCSL and Pat McCrory really need to turn this ship around, and fast. (I mean, damn, Charlotte’s newspaper “The Charlotte Observer” just published an op-ed putting McCrory in the ranks of other Southern governors that proved to be on the wrong side of history.)

I’m aware of how Southerners are portrayed and thought of outside the bounds of the South (and have even been the victim of these stereotypes sometimes), and right now, North Carolina is looking like a right bumpkin. And not a cute one. Instead of the little cousin who’s endearingly behind the times due to her own innocent ignorance, the Old North State has progressed (ha!) to being the willfully racist hick uncle everyone just grits their teeth and bears at the best of times.

I used to be proud of where I’m from. But this latest idiocy is making it real hard to be.

Transgender People May Soon Serve in the Military

Soldiers (US Army)

Soldiers (US Army)

According to reports, the Pentagon is very close to lifting a ban on transgender people serving in the military. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in the midst of creating a task force that will examine how allowing transgender people to serve their country will affect every aspect of the service. The task force will take about six months to completely analyze what changes are needed.

Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like Ash would ever decide to keep the ban in place: He’s already denounced the policy as “outdated” and “caus[es] uncertainty that distracts commanders from their core missions.” Sounds to me like he’s already made up his mind to do so (yay!); he just needs a roadmap to implement the necessary changes.

From the Department of Defense’s press release, Ash seems like a guy who gets it:

At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

I’m looking forward to seeing how accommodating the military is willing towards transmen and transwomen interested in serving their country to be in the near future.

How Large is the Transgender Population?

Laverne Cox (GLAAD)

Laverne Cox (GLAAD)

The transgender community is really stepping into the spotlight right now, and making progressive strides into mainstream society. So far this year, there’s been award-winning portrayals of transpeople, a transwoman becoming the face of a national advertising campaign and a prominent television personality going public with his transition story.

With all this progress, I was wondering exactly how large the U.S. transgender population numbers. I was fully prepared to find conflicting information or even no numbers, as I wasn’t sure how closely data was being tracked. The Transgender Law and Policy Institute has a fact sheet that claims 2-5% of the population is trans, but of course that’s self-reported and there’s no way of knowing how accurate it is.

Nate Silver’s data journalism site FiveThirtyEight posited one of my concerns in an article last year, that it’s difficult to get accurate data. Journalism Mona Chalabi mentions the widely-known stat from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law’s Williams Institute, which puts the transgender population at around 700K, or around .3% of the U.S. adult population. But Chalabi does acknowledge that more research is needed.

 

A lot of positive things are happening right now for the community, and hopefully that’s lead to even more acceptance and progress. And hopefully, more accurate numbers.

Aydian Dowling Could Be The First Trans “Ultimate Guy” for “Mens Health”

Aydian Dowling (Facebook)

Aydian Dowling (Facebook)

This past week has been a banner one for the trans community. First, Laverne Cox stripped down for “Allure” to help empower her various communities (black, woman, transgender). And now, fitness magazine “Men’s Health” might soon have its first transgender cover model.

Twenty-seven-year-old Aydian Dowling from Eugene, Oregon currently leads the magazine’s “Ultimate Guy” search, which searches for the man who “possesses all of the qualities that make up today’s well rounded, active, health conscious and thoughtful guy; is fit and fearless and leads by example.”

Dowling certainly meets those requirements. He began transitioning using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in Oct. 2009, and had top surgery (which removed his breasts) three years later. In terms of leading by example, Dowling is also a fitness entrepreneur: He created YouTube channel Beefheads Fitness, which focuses on fitness for trans people. He saw an opportunity within the marketplace when he realized that nobody was filling that void, and decided to step in. Dowling also gives back by donating some profits from his clothing company to help transmen pay for top surgery.

As of Sunday night, Dowling sits atop the “Reader’s Choice” leaderboard:

'Men's Health' Ultimate Guy Contest Leaderboard April 19, 2015

‘Men’s Health’ Ultimate Guy Contest Leaderboard April 19, 2015

The rankings are based on user votes, so anyone who comes to the website can decide whether to vote or not. (As you can see, there’s some self-selection bias at play here. But in this case, it might not be such a bad thing.)

Dowling has pretty much blown every other ranked contestant out of the water at this point. Brian Taylor, currently in second place, hasn’t even received 25% of the votes that Dowling has.

The winner of the “Ultimate Guy” contest will be featured on the “Men’s Health” November 2015 issue cover. The magazine’s editors note that “the winner of the reader vote isn’t guaranteed to win the contest, but will be in the top 10 finalists.” It’s very exciting that we’re potentially watching history in the making, and that this represents a large shift in terms of (re-)defining ideas of mainstream masculinity. And we really hope that the “Men’s Health” editors award Dowling the title, if he wins the reader poll.

 

President Obama Supports Ending Conversion Therapy for LGBT Youth

President Barack Obama (Politico)

President Barack Obama (Politico)

Big news last week: President Obama publicly stated that he supports banning conversion therapy for LGBT youth. The announcement came in response to an online petition urging the president to take action after transgender teen Leelah Alcorn’s suicide late last year. (Before her death, Alcorn’s parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy in hopes of getting their “son” back.)

Right now, it’s unclear what form Obama’s support will take. White House officials say that it’s unlikely that the president would push for a national law, but instead would “support the efforts to ban the practice at the state level.” It’s important to note that is a far cry from how Obama started his political career: At the time, he didn’t support gay marriage.

But the president’s views on LGBT issues are rapidly evolving, paving the way for the rest of America to follow suit. And change starts at home: The White House recently created an “all-gender” restroom for transmen and transwomen who may feel uncomfortable using the traditional facilities.