Yeah, I was angry last Thursday. And not because I heard about how lawmakers in North Carolina repealed that infamous “Bathroom Law” law that not only required transgender people in government and public buildings to use the restrooms that goes with the gender on their birth certificate, but also prevented local municipalities (like, say, Charlotte) to enact anti-discrimination policies — which, in turn, led to North Carolina losing a lot of lucrative business (like, say, college sports championships).
Normally, one would be happy that “HB2” was repealed, but it was replaced with legislation that still keeps some anti-trans stances in place, like the state still regulating some bathroom use and preventing local anti-discrimination ordinances until 2020. Yeah, no wonder people inside and outside of North Carolina are still angry. But that fear of losing more business (especially from college sports) than they already have finally began to outweigh any outlandish fear of a trans person having the gall to use a bathroom — although at the end of the day (literally speaking), that anti-trans phobia still won out.
Needless to say, I’m still rankled over the news today, enough so that I actually don’t care if North Carolina was suddenly sawed away from the rest of the Union, in a matter of speaking.
And I said that while still harboring hope for the LGBTQA people in North Carolina, including a few who hail from that state and who I’m proud to have connected with since I first hopped on social media many moons ago. I also say it with the hope that the powers that be in North Carolina, left and right, will begin to realize how the hate they’ve directed towards the trans community has caused and will still cause so much damage in business and prestige to their state.
But the news out of North Carolina wasn’t the only thing that gave me restless sleep this week. Sure, my brain may switch to resting mode when I turn out the lights, but it’s still comprehending enough bad news to keep me tossing and turning — directed in other ways towards the broad LGBTQ community. Consider:
News item: List of subjects for 2020 United States Census omits questions about sexual and gender identity.
The U.S. Census Bureau has to plan ahead, of course, with questions it wants to include on the 2020 census form. The census, of course, is Constitutionally required to take place at the beginning of every decade. It’s meant not only to count how many people there are in our country and to use that count for apportionment of representation, but to also gather demographic data such as how big your place of residence is, whether you own or rent it, the relationship between you and those who live with you, whether you have any children, and whether they go to school.
However, while “relationship” is still included among the data categories in the 2020 census as well as the bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey, the bureau has conveniently omitted, by “convenient” directive of the current president’s administration, “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” from its list of proposed questions. Which is frustrating for those in the LGBTQ community, and not only because it’s a shuttered form of self-expression. See, all that demographic data the census is used for consideration of a wide range of services, from schools and road services to health and welfare. If the Census Bureau cannot or does not gather that data, it can lead government benefits geared toward the LGBTQ community (e.g. health services), as well as rights and services for LGBTQ’s, being reduced or eliminated.
These moves are convenient for those who want to demean the LGBTQ community. If there’s no tangible and accurate data from the census about our community, the closed-minded will be inspired even further to pass discriminatory ordinances and legislation against us, not to mention loss of official services such as, say, police outreach. There’s no data to show you exist, the naysayers will likely claim, so why should we protect you? That’s what really irks me over all of this. Expressing who we are through words and actions (and bumper stickers and rainbow flags) are one thing, but official data to verify who we are is like a shield to protect us.
Needless to say, LGBTQ groups are raising a ruckus and are asking the administration to restore the questions about and data on LGBTQ people that the census bureau will gather in 2020 and beyond. May we all come together and really turn up the heat on this important matter. Because statistics matter.
Truth be told, the census matter wasn’t the main thing on my mind that made my night’s sleep restless. Consider:
Item: Legislation introduced in Minnesota would prohibit businesses and employers from offering gender-neutral restrooms.
That’s right, businesses and employers, and I’ll get to that distinction in a moment. Since its enactment in 1993, Minnesota has had a ban on discrimination based on gender identity. Now, one nitwit legislator has introduced a really, really regressive piece of legislation. It would:
- Update the “legal definition” of sex to be whatever is “biologically defined.”
- Prohibit businesses and public places from setting up gender neutral restrooms for the general public, meaning only men’s and women’s washrooms and locker rooms would be available.
- AND (and this is where the above noted distinction comes in) prohibit businesses from establishing a gender inclusive atmosphere for their own employees, meaning those gainfully employed at, say, a restaurant or some office tower could only use the washroom or locker room that coincides with their biological gender, and their bosses, however trans-supportive they may be, would be left powerless to overrule the matter.
Needless to say, this proposed legislation comes from a conservative Republican, likely from some podunk district in the sticks, who is head of a “pro-family” organization and has said some truly awful anti-LGBT claims in the past (such as this, for example). Said legislator has tried several times in the past to introduce and enact crap such as this in Minnesota’s legislature, including an attempt last year that had the ugly backing of 44 of his colleagues.
Even with his party in the majority, I hope that just as with the legislators in North Carolina, the powers that be in Minnesota, including the Democratic governor, will continue to see the light and shoo away evil-minded attempts at enacting such hateful legislation. At least said governor has given hope in the past towards the trans and allied community, as evidenced here. Yes, Governor Dayton, it is indeed a human rights issue and not a “states rights” one.
So, wherever you live and whoever you may be, keep a wary eye out for dirty tricks such as these from those who serve in government. Shine a light on them, however possible. And call out the dirty tricksters, however possible. Sunshine is the best disinfectant in matters such as this, and right now we need all the disinfectant we can get our hands on.
*breathing in* *breathing out* Okay, I’m finished ranting, for now. Hopefully my mind can rest for a little bit from thinking about all of this dark stuff.