Cary transgender teen closely watching political climate
Posted March 18
Updated March 19
Cary, N.C. — A year has passed since House Bill 2, often called the "bathroom bill," was signed into law by the North Carolina state legislature. In that time, President Trump has rolled back on Obama-era guidelines for transgender students, making some trans individuals feel unsafe.
16-year-old Cary High School student Quinn Mishra, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, is familiar with the challenges transgender people face when it comes to restrooms.
"With bathrooms I usually just use the women's bathroom anyways just because it avoids the most conflict for me," Mishra said.
"I already have enough anxiety trying to use the women's bathroom," he said. "I don't even want to know the anxiety that would happen if I used the men's bathroom."
On the heels of the case of a 17 year-old transgender teen from Virginia who sued his state about bathroom access, transgender students may now be in limbo. The Supreme Court declined to hear that case.
"It really hurt me as another trans male who lives in North Carolina, with HB2 and everything, to see that there's another state going through something like that," Mishra said.
Devin Lentz, the chair of the transgender initiative at the LGBT Resource Center of Raleigh, said the Supreme Court action was no surprise, but nonetheless disappointing.
"We have had reports come in that bullying at schools went up dramatically after House Bill 2 was passed," Lentz said. "And it's gone up again because of other political developments. Bad news keeps rolling in honestly, but we're not giving up."
Lentz also noticed a significant spike in people coming directly to the Resource Center in Raleigh for help.
"Calls to the center and walk-ins doubled. There was a huge influx of, basically, transgender people crying out for help."
In 2016, Time quoted analysis by the Williams Institute, which is a think-tank of researchers at UCLA Law who focus on sexual orientation and gender identity law, that estimated a trans population in North Carolina of about 22,200 adults and about 15,000 teenagers.
HB2 opponents say the legislation is a form of discrimination against the LGBT community.
In Cary, Mishra says he's been lucky enough to feel accepted, but not all teenagers have had the same experience.
He's motivated by a longer view.
"Knowing that I make a difference for people that will go through the same thing as me. The harder I push today, the sooner it'll happen," he said.