The fact that people are vocal about HB2 brings transgender issues to the forefront of the media and legislative discourse. This alone does not help to improve the conditions of trans lives. It is the perpetual activism by individuals, corporations, and institutions standing in solidarity with the transgender community, that has the potential of bettering the quality of trans lives.
It is harmful to to assume that all trans individuals have the resources available to live safe and viable lives. It is important to understand that the intersectionality of identities (i.e. sexuality, race, socioeconomic status) play a large factor in determining what resources can be available to a trans individual.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 19 out of 50 states "prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity." Here is a link to the Non-Discrimination Laws Map: https://www.aclu.org/map/non-discrimination-laws-state-state-information-map
It is important to understand what people value and where people are coming from when they stay have a stance on HB2. It is possible to value all lives of women, children, and transgender individuals. Religion plays a role in the HB2 issue because of the intersectionality it has in legislation and individuals' reasoning. Durkheim's and Berger's Theories of Religion, as well as Critical Gender Theory, have helped me to better understand values and the importance they have on institutions and individuals. These values can differ among individuals of an institution as well.
HB2 is a step backwards for the advancement of transgender rights, but this does not mean this degradation has to continue. It was an optimal sign that many companies, organizations, and people from around the nation and around the world, spoke up against HB2. I hope that overall national and global responses to HB2 help to prevent laws that would have passed that would have worsened the quality of live of transgender individuals.
HB2 is a North Carolinian act that was passed into law that designates the restroom a person uses by their biological sex (i.e. birth certificate). The act both disregards the rights of LGBTQI individuals and in turn vilifies anyone who's gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. HB2 bans cities in North Carolina from passing their own protections and local ordinances for the LGBTQI community (North Carolina Justice Center). There are people on both sides of the issue that are vehement about the enactment of HB2. A characteristic of HB2 and its surrounding controversy is the conflict of values. People's paradigms about gender are being challenged by this act.
Some of the individuals and groups that are vocal about the issue, are religious figures and institutions. They are not polarized on the issue either. Throughout the past several months, religious figures have been outspoken about their standings. I will be looking at religious institutions including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the North Carolina Values Coalition, The United Methodist Church, and Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice. These organizations have been vocal about their stance on HB2 and have made their stances public.
To say this is a secular versus religious or generation X versus 'Baby Boomer' generation conflict only, is an incorrect assumption. The main paradigm of binary gender (i.e. male, female) is being questioned and it has been for a while.
To further understand HB2 and its surrounding controversy, I will utilize Emile Durkheim's sacred versus profane dichotomy, Peter Berger's Sacred Canopy, and Critical Gender Theory. These theories will help to further the discussion of the values among the individuals and institutions.
What is HB2?
House Bill 2 (formally called Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act) is an act that was passed in the state of North Carolina in March 2016. HB2:
1) regulates the restroom that a person uses. The restroom must correspond to the biological sex that is on their birth certificate (i.e. male or female).
2) does not protect the rights of LGBTQI individuals (on the basis of gender and sexual orientation) concerning employment and discrimination.
3) sets a statewide minimum wage that cities may not set higher.
(Session Law 2016-3 House Bill 2)
This act was a spontaneous response to a Charlotte City Ordinance that "added marital and familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in the existing nondiscrimination ordinances" (City of Charlotte).
Many companies and celebrities have spoken against HB2 including Facebook, Google, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Bruce Springsteen, etc. View a complete list here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article69251877.html
Sex, Gender, & Sexual Orientation
What is sex?
The sex of a person is dependent on a multitude of factors which include "internal and external sex organs, chromosomes, and hormones" (Planned Parenthood). There are three different recognized sexes: male, female, and intersex. Even though there are distinct types of sexes, sex can be though of as a spectrum.
What is gender?
Gender and sex often are mistakenly used interchangeably. While sex is a biological basis for identity, gender is a social construction. Gender Spectrum argues, "It is the complex interrelationship between an individual’s sex (gender biology), one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither (gender identity) as well as one’s outward presentations and behaviors (gender expression) related to that perception, including their gender role." The fact that gender is a social construction does not make gender not real for people.
What is sexual orientation?
As defined by the Human Rights Campaign, sexual orientation is, "an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people."
According to the Trans Student Educational Resources, transgender/trans is "encompassing term of many gender identities of those who do not identify or exclusively identify with their sex assigned at birth. The term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life." Even though the word trans identifies a large group of people, this does not mean that all trans people have experiences that are the same. The intersectionality of race, sex, gender, religious, socioeconomic status all play a role in the diversity that exists among trans people and their experiences.