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Discrimination in public accommodations

Last week, North Carolina passed a new law that openly discriminates against the LGBT community. Titled “The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act,” people using schools and government buildings must use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate, or their “biological sex.” Along with the public outcry and derision from local and national businesses, this law will not be beneficial for the greater North Carolina community as it is illegal.

First, under Supreme Court precedent, forcing someone to reluctantly reveal a personal or private attribute is illegal. According to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

Many supporters of the law have argued that it would benefit the greater public from being attacked by the transgender community in the bathroom. However, this is simply not the case. The Human Rights Campaign, ACLU and Transgender Law Center have all confirmed that there is no evidence supporting this argument.

Vincent Villano, spokesman for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that, “NCTE has not heard of a single instance of a transgender person harassing a non-transgender person in a public restroom. Those who claim otherwise have no evidence this is true and use this notion to prey on the public’s stereotypes and fears about transgender people.”

In fact, forcing transgender people to only go to the bathroom of their “biological sex” hurts them even more. In 2013, the Williams Institute conducted a survey for transgender people in “gendered restrooms” in D.C. The survey found 54 percent of all respondents “reported having some sort of physical problem from trying to avoid public restrooms, such as dehydration, kidney infections and urinary tract infections.” 10 percent of survey respondents “who attended school in DC reported a negative impact on their education, including having excessive absences and dropping out of school due to issues related to restroom access.”

It is clear that laws such as North Carolina’s will do more harm than good. Not only are they unconstitutional, they also exile a part of society that just wants to feel comfortable when they go to the bathroom.