Controversial North Carolina Bathroom Law Could Change, but May Make Life More Difficult For Transgender People

Facing pressure from the NBA, the bill would create sex reassignment certificates.


Michal Jarmoluk / Pixabay

After months of backlash from numerous groups, leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are preparing to introduce legislation to change certain provisions of the state's controversial bathroom law.

If you recall, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill in March requiring individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate. In addition, the bill also prevented cities from passing any anti-discrimination protections that would apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as well as other labor regulations.

That law—the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, commonly known as House Bill 2—was a response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte, which would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom or locker room for the gender they identify with and prohibited discrimination for housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The statewide law was passed during a one-day special session, and was signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory after the session concluded.

Reaction to House Bill 2 has been heated. Businesses were quick to criticize McCrory and the General Assembly, and the law has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, including one from the United States Department of Justice.

However, conservatives have stood by House Bill 2, saying it will protect women and children from being sexually assaulted (though this claim lacks compelling support).

Three months after the law went on the books, leadership in the state's House of Representatives has drafted legislation to modify it. According to television station WBTV, the draft comes as a result of conversations between political leaders and officials from the National Basketball Association (NBA). Charlotte is currently set to host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, but the event's future has come into question since House Bill 2 passed.

So is the General Assembly planning on making it easier for transgender people to use their preferred bathroom? Far from it. Based on the draft of the bill, it won't just continue to be a hassle for these individuals to choose their bathroom—the change may make their lives more difficult.

If this draft were to become law, it would permit the government to create an official document recognizing someone's gender reassignment. In order to receive this certificate, a trans person would have to submit an application as well as a statement from a doctor who "has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery."

As Reason's Scott Shackford noted when House Bill 2 was passed, the government should treat gay and transgender people the same way they treat straight people. Instead, North Carolina's General Assembly is putting up a major hurdle to a minority group's self-determination. Despite the backlash to House Bill 2, legislators are only slightly loosening the restrictions they've placed on people who, like everyone, have to use the bathroom.