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Charlotte leaders, LGBT groups tell lawmakers to leave transgender ordinance alone

Posted March 17

— Charlotte City Council members and LGBT advocates rallied outside the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh on Thursday in support of a nondiscrimination ordinance the council passed last month that state lawmakers have vowed to overturn.

The ordinance broadly defines how businesses must treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers, but as in other cities recently, the debate has focused on bathrooms. The measure allows transgendered people to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable.

Legislative leaders and other critics say that "poses an imminent threat to public safety," contending that the ordinance would allow sexual predators to go into women's bathrooms and locker rooms.

Lawmakers have proposed holding a special legislative session to block the Charlotte ordinance, which goes into effect April 1. If not, the issue is expected to be among the first addressed when the General Assembly convenes for its regular 2016 session on April 25.

Supporters say the ordinance protects transgender people from being harassed or assaulted for trying to use the restroom and sets a tone of tolerance and acceptance for the Charlotte community.

Erica Lachowitz said she was beaten nearly to death while she was walking down a street 20 years ago for being transgender. Now, she has a family and a job she loves in Charlotte, and she worked to get the ordinance passed, saying forcing her to use a men's room would subject her to harassment and assault.

"I've been using the women's room for a very long time because it is safer for me to do that," Lachowitz said. "I would rather be judged in court than run the risk of getting my face beaten in again, because that is more than likely the outcome of that."

Chris Sgro, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, said more than 200 cities around the country have similar ordinances, including Myrtle Beach and Columbia in South Carolina, and no public safety problems have been reported.

"I do not see the South Carolina legislature racing to waste $42,000 a day to fix a problem that poses no actual problem," Sgro said.

"Transgender and gay people deserve to be protected from discrimination. There is not a public safety risk due to these protections, and that is a fact," he continued. "Facts matter, and we cannot allow fear-based lies to drive public discourse as they have sometimes done around this issue."

Sgro and other backers told lawmakers to leave the ordinance in place, saying the General Assembly should respect the will of Charlotte residents, whose elected City Council passed the ordinance overwhelmingly.

Republican lawmakers also are looking to turn the Charlotte ordinance into a political issue in the gubernatorial campaign, calling on Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic nominee for governor, to take action against it.

"Now that he’s done pandering to far-left primary voters, expect the first of many Roy Cooper flip-flops, accompanied by a dramatic announcement that he will do his job and finally stop this illegal and dangerous policy of forcing women and girls to share their bathrooms with grown men," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a statement.

The Attorney General's Office reiterated its stance that no action is necessary because local prosecutors can pursue sexual assault or indecent exposure charges if incidents occur in public restrooms or locker rooms.

26 Comments

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  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 18, 2016
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    Transgender folks go through a lot more than just making a verbal statement. As unfortunate as it is, there probably will be some incidents where authenticity is called into question (hopefully with words, not fists). Authorities will have to determine if the person is faking it, or if there is enough evidence that they truly live in the gender with which they identify. Transgender people have a lot more than words to demonstrate who they are. People faking it - uhm, yeah. That's when existing peeping laws kick in (and hopefully not sexual assault laws).

    It's great to know that the hundreds of communities that enacted these protection laws have not seen incidents. These laws are proven to work to protect the vulnerable. We have already have laws to prosecute the criminals, even if they decide to try to wear a dress while doing it.

  • Dan Wilder Mar 18, 2016
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    Yes I use the same bathroom at home or at friends houses but I don't use it at the same time they do, I don't use family friendly bathrooms and such, and I understand what you are saying about some of the things a real transgender may have to go through. but when you encounter one how will you know if they are a real transgender. will they be required to carry a recognized transgender id card ? If I go spend the afternoon in the women's gym shower room and when questioned I say I am a male but I'm transgender they have to take my word for it, I am not required to show any paperwork from a doctor verifying it. and apparently since I haven't broken any laws I can't even be detained while any background is checked. My understanding is that a transgender is a person who associates themselves with the opposite sex but still possesses their original genital organs.

  • Matt Wood Mar 18, 2016
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    Also, something y'all don't seem to grasp is that there are a lot of transgender people out there born with genetic abnormalities that don't match the normal XX/XY binary. Look up the term "intersex." Look up XXY Klinefelter syndrome. Sometimes babies are born and the doctor can't tell based on the baby's genitals what sex it should be, and then the parents have to decide. Lots of times they get it wrong. So I guess those kids should just suck it up and live life as the gender their parents/doctors got wrong at birth?

  • Matt Wood Mar 18, 2016
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    You go into the same bathrooms women use all the time. At home, at a neighbor's house, maybe even the "family" restrooms at an airport. In this case, you wouldn't see a woman in the men's restroom, as a transgender man presents as a man. You've probably already been in bathrooms with them hundreds of times! If this ordinance is repealed, then what you would end up with is a transgender man who looks like a man being forced to use the women's restroom, and then likely getting beaten up for it. The point is, transgender people go through extensive therapy to first be diagnosed transgender by licensed professionals, and then they go through extensive hormone treatments and surgeries to present as the gender. This ordinance doesn't allow predators to simply throw on a dress and use the women's restroom - they have to have already gone through all that other stuff, first!

  • Dan Wilder Mar 18, 2016
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    I only posted once, why it appears twice, I do not know. my apologies.

  • Dan Wilder Mar 18, 2016
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    How will you be able to prove a person is really transgender, crossdressing is not a requirement from what I understand. Basically you are going to just have to take their word for it. it seems like in order to make a tiny percentage of the population "comfortable" you don't care that you are making the vast majority of the population "uncomfortable". Transgender people want to be accepted as normal. but it is by definition not the norm. In society it is an oddity. While people may tolerate them in the spirit of individual freedom, they do not have accept them . Personal beliefs cannot be legislated. I will not go into a ladies restroom out of respect for their right to privacy and for respect for them as women. I know I would be uncomfortable if I were standing at a urinal an a woman walked in. That is just the way I feel and no one can change that regardless of what some politician writes on a piece of paper.

  • Dan Wilder Mar 18, 2016
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    How will you be able to prove a person is really transgender, crossdressing is not a requirement from what I understand. Basically you are going to just have to take their word for it. it seems like in order to make a tiny percentage of the population "comfortable" you don't care that you are making the vast majority of the population "uncomfortable". Transgender people want to be accepted as normal. but it is by definition not the norm. In society it is an oddity. While people may tolerate them in the spirit of individual freedom, they do not have accept them . Personal beliefs cannot be legislated. I will not go into a ladies restroom out of respect for their right to privacy and for respect for them as women. I know I would be uncomfortable if I were standing at a urinal an a woman walked in. That is just the way I feel and no one can change that regardless of what some politician writes on a piece of paper.

  • Phillip Mozingo Mar 18, 2016
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    Ok, then there is the problem. Nobody wants them in the same restroom. Use the restroom at your own risk. lol

  • David Collins Mar 17, 2016
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    I feel like a woman sometimes, so does that mean I can go into the girls locker room at NCSU?

  • David Collins Mar 17, 2016
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    People like this is the reason Trump is popular

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