Controversial North Carolina law HB142 ends December 1

Friday, November 20, 2020

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ronnie Dunn is a cosmetologist in Cary and has been living as a transwoman for eight years.

The 47-year-old said she's been forced to quit jobs and has lost opportunities because of her gender identity.

"I deserve respect," Dunn said.

Her encounters in women's restrooms have been just as worse.

"The woman was standing there waiting and said, 'you know this is woman's bathroom,'" Dunn said. "I was so humiliated, I couldn't do anything but rush out of the store with tears in my eyes. I just want to be treated the way everyone else is treated and have the same rights."

Dunn hopes that respect will come with the formal end to parts of House Bill 142 on December 1.

HB 142 was a compromise bill to 2016's controversial, and now repealed, House Bill 2.

HB 2 prevented cities and towns from adopting widespread non-discrimination protections and forced trans people to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender assigned at birth. That part was repealed as part of the compromise bill.

With the end of HB 142, cities and towns will now be able to adopt measures to protect the LGBTQ+ community.

"This is going to open up a door to a lot of possibilities for us," said Allison Scott, a transwoman fighting for those protections as director of policy and programs for the Campaign for Southern Equality, based in Asheville.

She said a few years ago, under the era of HB 2, she learned co-workers at her previous firm went to human resources to get her fired. She believed it's because she's transgender.

"To carry on with my life knowing that so many people wanted to upend my life and take away my means of supporting myself and my child. It was horrible," said Scott.

Her group will be working with Equality NC to organize town halls. Their goal is to develop ideas about what nondiscrimination policies should look like in communities across the state.

"When we talk about Black trans women, when we talk about people of color, when we talk about firefighters and veterans, we've got to realize this is not a trans issue, this is not an LGBTQ issue, this is a people issue," said Scott.

Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equality NC said more needs to be done at the state level.

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"I feel we still have a lot of work to do because cities are still prohibited from regulating restroom access based on gender and gender identity," said Johnson. "The North Carolina General Assembly could very easily wipe out this terrible legacy of HB 2 and HB 142 by extending protections for the LGBTQ+ community and other categories like veterans, or people who are pregnant, or people who are immigrants, or differently abled."

Equality NC is also lobbying for the state to create legislation to better track hate crimes and provide protections for LGBTQ youth in the foster care system.

Senate-leader Phil Berger (R) did not respond to a request for comment.

Equality NC urged people to contact their elected leaders if they want to see state-supported nondiscrimination policies for the LGBTQ+ community.