Thursday, May 5, 2016

An Open Letter to Governor Pat McCrory

Dear Governor McCrory, 

My heart is heavy and has been for weeks. Actually, it's more than heavy, I'm truly heartsick over the rushed passing of House Bill 2, what is nationally being called "the bathroom bill."  

From my perspective as a white, cisgender, mother of one young son, there is so much more wrong with it than just the blatant discrimination against people who are transgender - people who identify with the gender that is opposite of what they were assigned at birth. The truth is that LGBTQ (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Questioning) youth and adults are statistically much more likely to be harmed in a public restroom than any other population of people.

According to many national studies, including this one by the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender youth and adults live with a higher risk of bullying, physical and sexual harassment, severe depression, attempted and completed suicide attempts. These facts alone make me sad and heartsick...and now, with HB2, you have succeeded in further marginalizing an already at risk and victimized group of people. You have also infringed upon their legal right, and the right of any other minority group, to pursue claims of discrimination. 

This makes me sad. 

However, another piece about HB2 that makes me me mad, is that, once again, I feel like a group of men (because our North Carolina political leadership is mostly men) have come together to legally tell me, as a woman, what I should be fearful of and legally tell me, as a woman, how they are going to take care of me from this so-called perceived danger of transgender women using the same public bathroom I may be using with my young son. 

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS - women in this country, and yes, in North Carolina, are more at risk in THEIR OWN HOMES than in a public restroom.  

If you are serious about my safety and the safety of all women in this state, please start taking domestic violence seriously. Here are some staggering statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

- Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
- 1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in their lifetime and almost half of those victims, were raped by an acquaintance or intimate partner.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

Children in this country, and yes, in North Carolina, are more at risk of being preyed upon by SOMEONE THE FAMILY ALREADY KNOWS than a stranger in a public restroom.

If you are serious about the safety of children in this state, please start taking child abuse and neglect seriously.  The statistics from National Children's Alliance about reported child abuse in North Carolina in 2013 make it obvious only about 8% of abusers were unknown by their victims, which means that 92% of abused children knew their perpetrators.

Conversely, spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union have no statistical evidence that a trans person has ever attacked a cisgender person in a public restroom. The National Center for Transgender Equality 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 that this is true and use this notion to prey on the public's stereotypes and fears about transgender people."  Laws like HB2 and others are vehicles for instilling fear of trans and gender-nonconforming people.

The statistics speak for themselves. Governor McCrory and North Carolina law-makers, please quit legislating out of ignorance and fear.  

If you are serious about the safety of women and children in this state, then find ways to educate about sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse. Find ways to teach our young people about matters of consent and rape-culture. Find ways to educate about sexual assault on college campuses. Find ways to educate whole families and communities about child abuse and neglect. Fund organizations that are working to educate on these issues. Fund organizations that are working with the victims, children and adults, of abuse and sexual violence.

There are ways that you can legitimately work to keep women and children safe in this state. HB2 is not one of those ways. HB2 does nothing more than perpetuate the myth that transgender and non-gender conforming individuals are child predators. HB2 does nothing to protect women and children in restrooms, it does nothing to protect anyone, in fact, it may actually put transgender people in more danger, (but that has yet to be proven).  

As long as you stand by HB2, as a voter in North Carolina, you will never have my vote. 

Rev. Naomi Sease Carriker
Charlotte, NC