By Peter Sprigg
A Facebook friend recently posted a meme that displayed some text upside down. The message was that you have an amazing talent if you are able to read the text when it is upside down and backwards (i.e., right to left).
Actually, it was fairly easy to read. But a similar (modest) talent is needed to read the New York Times these days — especially an editorial about North Carolina’s “bathroom protection bill,” House Bill 2, known as HB2 (“North Carolina Pays a Price for Bigotry,” September 21). Simply take everything the New York Times says and invert it, and you will come close to understanding the truth about the HB2 controversy.
The Times says that Charlotte, N.C.’s sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance was “used as a reason” to pass HB2. Used? Charlotte’s passage of this ordinance in February was the only reason for the state law that was “hastily passed in March” — to prevent the Charlotte ordinance from taking effect on April 1. If Charlotte had left well enough alone — including allowing issues of transgender bathroom use to be settled on a case-by-case basis like they always had — there would have been no state intervention.
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The Times says that HB2 serves to “bar transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity.” Yet they fail to mention that the bill’s guidelines for bathroom use apply only to “public agencies” — that is, to buildings that are owned by the government. House Bill 2 does not dictate any policy for private organizations or businesses. This is in contrast to the Charlotte ordinance, which would have barred private businesses from reserving women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms for biological females.
The Times also fails to mention that while facilities in government buildings are to be “used by persons based on their biological sex,” their “biological sex” is defined by the sex on their birth certificate — which actually can be changed in North Carolina if a person has had sex reassignment surgery. In other words, the only transgender people “barred” from the women’s room by HB2 would be those who still have male genitalia. Finally, they failed to mention that the HB2 restrictions apply only to “multiple occupancy” facilities, while the bill explicitly authorizes the provision of “single occupancy” facilities that may be used by anyone, regardless of sex or gender identity.
Expressing one of the most common misconceptions about HB2, the Times says the bill is “based on the specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators.” This charge is itself a “specious notion.” The safety concerns around “public accommodation” laws that include “gender identity” as a protected category (like Charlotte’s) do not involve people who consistently identify as transgender. They involve those who may be tempted to pose as transgender in order to gain access to the facilities of the opposite sex.
“Such predators won’t be deterred by HB2,” some critics argue. The Times mocks HB2, saying it “was never enforceable, since police officers can’t reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals outside bathroom stalls.” Under normal circumstances, however, the first line of prevention is not police officers, but ordinary citizens or employees saying, “What are you doing in here?” But under “gender identity” laws like the one in Charlotte (which was overturned by HB2), those ordinary citizens would be deterred from speaking out — by the threat that they could be charged with “discrimination” if they do. Remember, there is no visible difference that would allow such a citizen to distinguish a person who identifies as transgender and a cross-dressing predator. And to radical transgender activists, asking for proof of transgender status is itself a form of “discrimination.”
The Times claims that “no one has been made safer by preventing transgender people from using appropriate [sic] public restrooms.” This, of course, is utterly impossible to know, unless one can read the minds of sexual predators to know what they would see as deterrent or as license. If the Times is asserting that cross-dressing men have never committed crimes in public showers, locker rooms, or restrooms, however, they plainly have not been paying attention. Family Research Council has compiled a list of such incidents, as have others.
Even in the absence of criminal activity, however, women and girls (in particular) have a legitimate concern about privacy. In fact, courts have ruled that there is a fundamental right to “bodily privacy” — that is, not to be seen unclothed or partially clothed by someone of the opposite sex, or to be exposed to the partially clothed or unclothed body of someone of the opposite sex, against one’s will. This is the very reason why we have separate men’s rooms and women’s rooms to begin with (something which, at least so far, the New York Times has not questioned). It is not because men and women have different “gender identities,” but because they have different bodies.
The Times asserts, “The governor and his Republican colleagues in the Legislature are solely to blame for the hundreds of job and millions of dollars the state has lost as businesses and sports organizations have turned away from North Carolina.” In reality, national LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, who care nothing about destroying jobs in North Carolina, are primarily to blame. Having failed at the normal task of lobbying, they are now engaged in a form of racketeering, using specious charges of “bigotry” (echoed by the Times) in an effort to extort cooperation from businesses and sports leagues, and using the economic consequences in an (unsuccessful) effort to coerce a reversal from the legislature. If the NCAA and the ACC had kept their sports championships in North Carolina and simply monitored them, they would undoubtedly have found that their concerns about North Carolina “providing a safe and respectful environment at our events” were completely unfounded.
The Times baldly asserts, “The point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens.” In reality, the point was to protect ordinary citizens, who could be “harmed and humiliated” by being forced to share showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms with those of the opposite biological sex.
It is the New York Times editorial board — not North Carolina’s courageous Gov. Pat McCrory — who need to “come to [their] senses.”
First published at FRC Blog
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