North Carolina and Mississippi Passed Discriminatory Bills, But I Refuse To Remain Silent
North Carolina and Mississippi recently made headlines for signing two anti-LGBT+ bills into law. News outlets, prominent organizations and officials around the nation roundly decried these measures as discriminatory, as these bills — though they were framed as “religious freedom” bills — have the potential to drastically alter the treatment of LGBT+ individuals in the workplace, businesses, and courts.
North Carolina’s law, known as HB2, was passed after legislation that protected and expanded LGBT+ rights and was explicitly designed to disable cities from passing laws counteracting HB2 was passed in the city of Charlotte.
“In a single day, the governor and legislature of North Carolina unveiled, deliberated, passed, and signed into law a bill that activists have described as the most extreme anti-LGBT measure in the country — forcing transgender people into bathrooms that differ from their gender identity and disabling cities from creating laws protecting LGBT people,” according to the Washington Post.
Mississippi’s Bill 1532 similarly allows religious organizations to deny LGBT individuals "marriage, adoption and foster care services; fire or refuse to employ them; and decline to rent or sell them property," according to CNN. Medical professionals will be permitted to refuse to participate in treatments, counseling and surgery related to "sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning."
Both laws effectively strip LGBT+ individuals of any of the rights to which they’re entitled as citizens of the Unites States. Denying transgender individuals the right to a reassignment surgery — to deny them the ability to occupy the body with which they identify — is to deny those individuals their very personhood and humanity. Allowing businesses to turn away LGBT+ customers is terrifyingly reminiscent of a dark time in United States history when black people were turned away from public services, or denied medical access at hospitals. It stands alongside the persistent insistence of paying Mexican immigrants below minimum wage and denying them workers’ rights because they’re undocumented. These laws are discrimination in its most blatant form.
It took me a lot of effort to write this article. As I read more about the implications of these laws, I couldn’t help but let the rage and sadness take over. As a feminist and a member of the LGBT+ community, I’m angered by the way members of my communities are being mistreated. As a human being aware of what discrimination feels like, I’m heartbroken.
The legislatures of North Carolina and Mississippi seem hell-bent on moving their states — and perhaps the country as a whole — towards a more unwelcoming time, a time when the only people who seemingly deserved rights were white, hetero, cisgender, Christian males. They seem intent on maintaining the patriarchy that every social justice movement battles in an attempt to gain back their civil rights.
But until every marginalized group gets those rights, until this patriarchy is ultimately dismantled, these social justice movements can not and will not remain silent.
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