After a year of legislative battles in North Carolina against the anti-transgender law House Bill 2, the heinous bill, which forbids trans people from using public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, could finally be destroyed tomorrow.
According to the incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, state lawmakers are planning to convene a special session on Tuesday to fully repeal HB2—a law so vulgar that it has repelled major companies, like Paypal and the NBA, from doing business in the state, needlessly costing North Carolina more than $395 million and thousands of jobs.
Last February, the city council in Charlotte, North Carolina, passed a local, expansive non-discrimination ordinance that included protections for transgender people in public spaces, including restrooms. Such legislation is hugely important: Seventy percent of trans people have reported verbal harassment, physical assault, or being denied access in public restrooms, according to a 2013 survey. Of course, this fact has not stopped right wing extremists from waging a full-on legislative war against transgender people and their rights. HB2 is 2016's most emblematic example of this—it was passed in retaliation against Charlotte's ordinance during an unusual special session, and it effectively nullifies Charlotte's protections because it applies to the entire state.
On Monday, the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal the city's non-discrimination ordinance; within minutes of the unanimous vote, Governor-elect Cooper said that HB2 will be repealed as well, and current North Carolina Governor Patt McCrory confirmed that he will call a special session to do so.
"I hope [the North Carolina General Assembly] will keep their word to me and with the help of Democrats in the legislature, HB2 will be repealed in full," Governor-elect Cooper said.
In a statement, the Charlotte City Council reaffirmed their commitment to protecting all people from discrimination but noted that HB2's cost to the state was too extreme. "In order to continue thriving as an inclusive community and compete for high paying jobs and world-class events, the City and State must take action together to restore our collective reputation," they said.
Chase Strangio, a lawyer with the ACLU—which has sued North Carolina over HB2—agrees that HB2 had a disastrous effect. "HB2 has been a stain on North Carolina," he tells Broadly. "The law has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost jobs, revenue, and investment. It has been exceedingly unpopular within the state and nationally leading to the defeat of outgoing Governor Pat McCrory, who was the law's champion. And most upsetting, the law targeted some of the state's most vulnerable individuals and sent a clear message to trans people, in particular: that they were not welcome within the state."
Strangio notes that "nothing is definite yet," but he hopes that the legislative leadership in North Carolina will "uphold their end of the deal and get rid of HB2 once and for all." If the bill is repealed, he says, it will send a significant message to transphobic and bigoted lawmakers throughout the country: "That discrimination is costly and laws that target people for discrimination have no place in our society."
"Unfortunately," he adds, "we have seen many HB2-style bills already pre-filed in states across the country, and we will keep fighting to ensure that trans people are not targeted by our government in the coming months."