On Fifth Anniversary of HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ Passage, North Carolina Introduces Anti-Trans Sports Ban.
North Carolina puts forward another anti-transgender bill, again invoking the rhetoric of protecting women and girls from transgender people.
Late Monday, the North Carolina House introduced House Bill 358, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports (including college sports) consistent with their gender identity. The timing of this bill introduction could not have been more ironic, as it came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Governor Pat McCrory signing the now-notorious House Bill 2, which mandated discrimination against transgender people in bathrooms.
Like HB2, the “Save Women’s Sports” bills rely on false narratives based in fear, rather than facts or science. Like HB2, these sports bans are fear mongering and an attempt to score political points by singling out already marginalized people for additional discrimination.
“In a moment of sad irony, North Carolina legislators have shown they clearly did not learn their lesson from the HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ fight that threatened the state to the tune of billions in revenue, taxpayer-funded litigation, and a tarnished reputation–in addition to the personal reputational harm Gov. Pat McCrory suffered that cost him his job,” said Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Kate Oakley. “By introducing an anti-transgender sports ban bill, they are playing with fire once again, and engaging in a fight that is doomed to the same fate. This legislation is simply the latest iteration in a failed series of attempts to thwart equality for LGBTQ people. Two conservative governors have either threatened to veto or vetoed anti-transgender sports ban legislation out of the same fears that were realized in North Carolina five years ago. Let North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ fight be a lesson to all states and governors considering anti-transgender legislation this session. North Carolina does not want to go down this road again.”
The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states – quite like the bathroom bill push in 2016. There are 174 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country so far this year. Of those, 95 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 358, ban transgender girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. As was the case in the HB 2 fight, legislators across the country invoke hypothetical scenarios of harm but have failed to provide actual examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason North Carolina or any other state needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.
Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation
- Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell joined companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
- Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
- The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups-representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations-released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm
Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.
- The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
- The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
- During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.
The economy and reputation of North Carolina suffered very real harm caused by HB2. Here’s just a snapshot of the overwhelming outcry at the time of the bill’s passage:
- Over 200 major business leaders, from Apple to Zola, signed an open letter to NC Gov. Pat McCrory opposing HB2, because discrimination is bad for business. The letter was first announced on March 29, 2016, when it was hand-delivered to Pat McCrory by HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro and transgender advocate Candis Cox.
- On April 5, 2016, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that the company will seek an alternative location for its new “global operations center.” PayPal’s investment was expected to bring 400 skilled jobs to North Carolina, with an annual payroll impact of more than $20 million. In its statement, Schulman said, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”
- On April 8, 2016 Bruce Springsteen cancelled his concert in North Carolina over HB2, saying, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry-which is happening as I write-is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
- On May 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice determined North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. At a press conference on May 9, Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke directly to the transgender community, saying “We see you. We stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
- On July 21, 2016, the NBA decided to stand up to North Carolina lawmakers who refused to repeal HB2 by pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC. Despite the NBA’s repeated warnings that it would have to consider moving the high-profile game out of the state if the anti-LGBTQ law was not repealed, the state’s General Assembly shamefully adjourned after 100 days of inaction.
- In North Carolina, basketball is king-but that didn’t stop the NCAA from standing up for their LGBTQ players, employees and fans by vowing to move tournament events from the state because of HB2. The NCAA announced that they would move all 2016-2017 championship games out of the state on September 12, 2016.
- On Election Day, NC Governor Pat McCrory, who signed HB2 into law, was defeated at the ballot box — the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on Election Day. Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that HB2 was the most cited issue leading to McCrory’s defeat in those who voted against McCrory.
- In February, the North Carolina Sports Association sent a letter to lawmakers warning of a loss of NCAA championship games through 2022 if HB2 is not immediately repealed. In the letter, the sports association warned that the NCAA decision could cost the state at least another half a billion dollars in economic activity when other sports organizations follow the NCAA’s lead in moving events out of the state. In November 2016, Forbes estimated that the state had already lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to HB2.
- In March, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex revealed it had lost $23.5 million in revenue from various championships and conventions because of HB2.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.