Protecting Women Starts at Home—Not in Public Bathrooms
With North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom bill” now behind us, it’s worth remembering that the state’s House Speaker and other male members of the legislature routinely promoted the law as a way of “protecting” North Carolina women like me and my teenage daughter. The truth is that it didn’t—and legislation like it never will.
Among other things, HB2 required transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings—effectively banning trans women, who already face disproportionate risks to their lives and dignity in public and especially in public restrooms, from using women’s rooms. The Associated Press tallied billions of dollars lost by the state from pulled and cancelled conventions, sporting events, concerts and business expansions in protest of the law, which was rescinded in part early this month after more than a year on the books, but HB2 supporters—and those supporting yet a new bathroom bill, HB562—believed their law would heroically save my daughter and me from a bad guy in the stall next door.
There’s no evidence this much-professed threat really existed. But what did happen in North Carolina in the year of HB2? Mary Stoll of Jacksonville was allegedly beaten to death by her boyfriend. Sheryl Dianne Marshall of Raeford was allegedly shot to death by her husband. Rebecca Ann Jones of Wilmington, was allegedly strangled to death by her estranged fiancé. Elizabeth Contrivo of Candler was allegedly shot to death by her husband. Lacey West of Cherryville was allegedly shot to death by her boyfriend. Iris Armstrong of Fort Bragg was allegedly stabbed and beaten to death by her husband. Charlene Ellen Norris of Charlotte was allegedly shot to death by her husband. Garlette Rosette Howard of Greenville was allegedly beaten to death with what was believed to be a hammer by her boyfriend—who also allegedly did the same to Howard’s 11-year-old daughter, Bryana Nicole Carr.
These were just a few of the more than 40 women and children whom the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence catalogued as having been shot, beaten, strangled, stabbed or run over allegedly by a husband, boyfriend, fiancé, father or stepfather during the year that North Carolina legislators began “protecting” women and children from transgender people (or from the many fakers whom we were told would materialize) in our public bathrooms. They ranged in age from just 2 up to 84.
In the future, North Carolina lawmakers should stop pretending their goal is to “protect women” when they attack other women with legislation like HB2—and do nothing to address the real threats in women’s lives. They should stop saying they’re “protecting” my daughter or me or any other women in North Carolina from imagined, made-up threats when, by far, most of us really aren’t afraid of the trans woman in the stall next to us—whom I promise wants privacy just as much as I do and who would suffer more from being banned from her rightful restroom. They should stop patronizingly pretending that legislating who gets to use which bathroom will “protect” women and children from while dozens and dozens of them will die not at the hands of a stranger in the next stall but at the hands of the men they share dates and homes and often some sort of love with.
Before lawmakers act in the name of North Carolina women again, they might think about conducting a reliable, random, anonymous survey that asks women how often they worry about the “threat” that HB2 allegedly addressed. Then they should ask how many of us have been afraid of a man who supposedly cared for us. And they should think about Mary, Sheryl, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Lacey, Iris, Charlene, Garlette and Bryana when asking that question. Then, perhaps, they can act in our name.
To some this post might seem lightweight, however, it is not. To the transgender men and women it is serious and represents a basic human right. From my point of view, how does one check? How do the conservatives plan on enforcing this law? No public official that I contacted last year had a clear direct answer. Of course not. They would have to do a physical examination on every man and/or women who walked into a public restroom.
The bill passed this year by our new Democratic governor, is a compromise bill and it does not completely erase the HB bill or as we call it the bathroom bill. There are a lot of good, honest, hard-working people who are still being discriminated against or face the prospect of future discrimination.
While this legislative issue is not my only concern for men and women and it is very important, there is another issue near and dear to my heart. It is of Domestic Violence. Yes DV. The crime that didn’t used to be a crime. It used to be a right of a husband. He could hit a woman with anything as long as it was no thicker than his thumb. Check out the male thumbs around you.
That is all changed in 2017. It took a lot of hart work by concerned women, community leaders, religious institutions, and feminists to work together to say, NO. No you can’t beat a woman
If you care about women, then pitch in and speak up for transgender women and abused women. If you really care, when a bill is proposed, read it carefully and vote your compassion heart. A woman is beaten, in America, every 11 seconds. Every 11 seconds a woman or girl feels a hand, fist, slap, push, kick, pinch, twist on their bodies. This is not love. This has never been love and it never will be love.
Legislation is being proposed to cut funding for DV programs across the country. Please vote against cuts. Woman’s and girl’s lives are at stake. If Bathroom bills are brought up for vote in your state or country, please vote against them. These people can not hurt you. They will not hurt you. However transgender women are beaten and/or killed simply because they exist. Let’s us stop all violence against women everywhere.