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An Open Letter to a North Carolina State Legislator

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 1/04/2016 Whitney Tilson
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I sent this letter last Saturday to an old acquaintance, John Fraley, who's a Republican in the North Carolina state legislature (the Majority Freshman Leader, in fact). He recently voted for the HB2 bill, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law, that bars transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender identity and prohibits cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances that protect gay and transgender people.
Dear John,
I'm really disappointed to hear that you voted for this bill and am really struggling to reconcile the person I know - the highly intelligent, rational man with a heart of gold - with someone who could support a law that is so cravenly political and motivated by hatred and an attempt to further stigmatize an already-oppressed tiny minority. If it were otherwise, why was this bill rushed through in the proverbial (if not literal) dead of night? What century are you and your colleagues living in???
I feel strongly about this in part because I have two cousins, one of whom is a transgender man and another who is married to a transgender woman. I find it offensive that you and your colleagues passed a law that stigmatizes them - and for what? If you were really concerned about protecting children from a certain group of people known for having a high propensity to be pedophiles, why didn't you pass a bill banning Catholic priests from your restrooms? No doubt you find the idea of such a law absurd and offensive (as do I), but, rest assured, no more absurd and offensive than I find the law you and your colleagues actually passed.
(Whether Catholic priests have/had a propensity to be pedophiles is open to debate, but what's not open to debate is the fact that thousands of priests have molested children, whereas there is not a single documented case of a transgender person committing a sexual crime or even behaving inappropriately in a public restroom (though the conservative media has often spread false stories to this effect); in contrast, however, many transgender students have been harassed and bullied in school restrooms when forced to use an assigned restroom inconsistent with their gender identity.)
The absurdity of your law is further underscored by this photo posted by a transgender man from NC. Do you really want this guy walking into a ladies room in your state??? What total and utter stupidity!
But let's be honest: the real issue here isn't (nor was it intended to be) a practical one: it's a symbolic one. It's a chance for God-fearin' real Americans (and the politicians who represent to them) to stick it to the Volvo-drivin', latte-sippin', Christmas hatin', NY Times readin', Obama-and-Hillary lovin', terrorist-appeasin', flag-burnin', lefty, pinko, liberal elites who are ruining this country, right?
I get it. In the game of politics, both parties are sometimes guilty of passing really stupid laws that, in reality, are purely symbolic and have no real impact on anyone. Perhaps that was the intent here. But your state party's leaders badly miscalculated.
In passing this bill, you've made yourselves a laughing stock - for example, see this spoof article entitled, North Carolina Governor Swears in Historic First Class of Bathroom-Enforcement Cadets.
In addition, you are tarnishing your state's well-deserved good name. Surely you value the image of North Carolina as a forward-looking state, filled with well-educated people and governed in a pragmatic, business-oriented way. Well congratulations! You and your colleagues have tossed that image aside and replaced it with the old trope of yet another former slave state filled with a bunch of angry, bigoted, ignorant rednecks who want to return the U.S. to the 1950s (if not the 1850s), where gays and "Negroes" weren't too "uppity". (I had really thought (hoped?) these days were behind us, other than a few pockets in the Deep South, but Trump's rise has, sadly, removed the scales from my eyes.)
The law you passed is so unnecessary, so hateful, so reactionary, and so backward that it cannot stand. It will not stand. Mark my words: This issue isn't going to go away, and, like your peers in Indiana and Arkansas, you and your colleagues will be forced to rescind this law.
So the only question is (to quote what I used to say to my daughters when they were little when they, on occasion, refused to let me brush their teeth at night): "Are we going to do this the hard way or the easy way?"
The obvious and sensible thing to do would be to immediately vote to rescind the law - it would be easy to come up with an excuse: "It has been misunderstood; upon hearing reaction from the business community, we reconsidered; blah, blah, blah..." Sure, the liberals would have their day - but only for a day and then the issue would be forgotten.
But I'd bet my last dollar that, instead, your governor and legislative leadership pick the hard way: dig in their heels, lie about what the law really says, make lame, technical explanations to try to put lipstick on this pig, and, in general, make a bad situation worse and further drag your state's good name through the mud. [I was right, as this is exactly what's happened over the past week.]
Maybe this would be worth the fight (from your perspective) if you were going to win - but you won't. The courts will surely overturn this law as unconstitutional, but my guess is that you'll cave before then when the NBA threatens to move the 2017 All-Star game to another state or the NCAA announces that it won't host any tournament games in NC until the bill is rescinded. But that will take a while - and, in the meantime, immense damage will be done.
The mark of a wise person isn't never making mistakes - everyone makes plenty of them. Rather, it's the ability to quickly admit - and fix - them!
I am confident that you will have the common sense and decency to do this, and hope you will be able to persuade your colleagues so you all can remedy this terrible unforced error you've made.
Best regards,
PS--To learn more about the transgender issue, I strongly urge you to watch this John Oliver segment and the Frontline documentary, Growing Up Trans.

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