When I started college at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro two years ago, I did the kinds of things a lot of guys did. I made friends, joined a fraternity and started taking classes in business and accounting. I had a great time.
North Carolina’s new bill could change all that.
The measure requires all state residents to use bathrooms that match the gender they were assigned at birth. And it strips away local protections that prohibit discrimination against LGTBQ people in housing, employment and public accommodations.
This affects me because I’m trans. I started hormone replacement therapy at 18. My face, body and voice all changed substantially in the summer between high school and college. When I started at UNC, my peers were not aware that I was a transgender man until I or one of my close friends told them.
I’ve felt safe and happy, like I was part of the community here. This bill could well make things more difficult. I feel much less safe knowing that my friends or I could lose employment, be denied services or be denied entry to businesses as a result of my gender identity.
I also worry about using female bathrooms. In nearly every incident where my gender has been an issue, it has been in a female bathroom. I used the female restroom in high school because many people knew me as female and I didn’t want to cause disruptions. I ended up facing opposition anyway, as my outward appearance was male. I have been screamed at, pushed, shoved or even slapped. In high school this became such a problem that I had to speak with a counselor and be approved to use faculty restrooms, where other students would not be allowed so that I could ensure my safety from female students. The thought of doing that again causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety.
I’m also scared for my future. I’ve been denied employment due to my gender identity before. I used to teach high school marching band over the summer. In 2014, one of the teachers found out that I was trans and refused to have me back. It wasn’t my performance — he told me I’d done a great job. Rather, he worried that parents would react badly if they discovered that I was trans. I’m not alone — according to one study, 55 percent of transgender people have lost jobs because of who they are. Knowing that my accomplishments and professional experience could be deemed null due to a letter on my driver’s license or a word on my birth certificate is disheartening. Knowing that my friends or family could be denied employment, access to businesses, or admissions to certain programs based on nothing more than their own identities is nothing short of revolting.
It is hurtful to see the government of North Carolina stigmatizing trans people, threatening our privacy and suggesting that my identity as a man is illegitimate. It is embarrassing to know that I live in a state that actually requires the discrimination of myself and people like me. I am excited to stand up with my LGBTQ siblings across the nation to say that enough is enough. We are not this. I long for a time when our legislators will fight to truly maintain liberty and justice for all.