News Staff Writer
After a proposed deal to repeal House Bill 2 recently failed, UNC Asheville students discussed the social consequences and economic impact of the bill.
On Sept. 18, two top state legislators proposed the repeal of HB2, but the repeal would only happen if the city of Charlotte repealed its transgender nondiscrimination ordinance first. The following day, Charlotte’s mayor said the city would not repeal its ordinance.
Will Frisbee, a junior physics student from Asheville who identifies as non-binary, said HB2 negatively targets specific people.
“People who don’t conform very well to the gender identity they have or to the identity they’ve been assigned at birth are typically targeted as deviant, they’re targeted as outcasts,” Frisbee said. “As someone who’s non-binary, I don’t believe it’s necessary for people to fit into one of those boxes for gender.”
“I think it’s an unfair law,” said Sarah Mendelsohn, a sophomore political science student from Baltimore, Maryland.. “It’s a very minor issue that was blown out of proportion.”
Mendelsohn said HB2 represents an underlying attitude directed at a specific group of people.
“I think this is representative of a lot of the attitudes towards the LGBT community and that to me is the most startling,” Mendelsohn said. “From what I’ve seen, no one here in Asheville is really complying with HB2, so I think the effects of it aren’t necessarily detrimental, but I think it represents something a lot more concerning.”
Oliver Richards, a junior sociology student from Raleigh who identifies as non-binary, said the rhetoric surrounding HB2 has been used to make the public afraid of transgender people.
“People have been twisting this rhetoric as if the bill is protecting children and women. It provides an easy target and the target is vulnerable, it tells people who they should be afraid of,” Richards said. “It’s this idea of creating a target and saying, ‘these people who never have been a problem before, you should be afraid of them because they’re going to hurt the children.’ Children and women are used as rhetorical devices to justify bigotry and harm.”
Frisbee said the public’s fear of transgender people is unfounded.
“If you think this is what trans people are doing, then you are mistaken,” Frisbee said. “We just want to pee, we just want to take a shit and we just want to go on with our lives like everyone else.”
Frisbee said the public concern about bathrooms being used by transgender people was not prevalent before HB2.
“Trans people were made hypervisible after the passage of HB2 because no one really thought about them being in the same bathroom,” Frisbee said. “Where the hell do you think they’ve been going to the bathroom all this time? No one really thought about it until the bill came along and pointed out that that might be potentially dangerous.”
Richards said the public’s emotions are being targeted.
“A lot of the language that’s been used is meant to evoke emotional responses in people to say, ‘this is who you should be afraid of’ rather than looking at the actual facts,” Richards said. “It has labeled an entire population as predatory or dangerous simply for how they live their lives.”
Mischa D’Errico, a sophomore biology student from Raleigh, said the aftermath of HB2 has been both positive and negative.
“It’s definitely hurting the state as a whole,” D’Errico said. “The NBA All-Star game was going to bring so much revenue and McCrory really sacrificed that.”
On July 21 the NBA announced they were pulling the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte. The game was expected to generate an estimated $100 million. On Sept. 12 the NCAA decided to pull its seven championship tournaments out of the state and on Sept. 14 the ACC withdrew its football title game as well.
“I know a lot of artists have canceled their concerts here or postponed because they don’t agree with the bill,” D’Errico said. “But some artists and bands that I’ve seen still performed here and all their proceeds went to supporting the LGBT community, which I thought was really awesome.”
Frisbee said the boycotts of North Carolina are predominantly affecting poor people.
“They think they’re doing good, but the first people to feel the effects of economic downturns are poor people and those are the people the bill is hurting,” Frisbee said. “Pat McCrory has also taken emergency aid and put it toward defending the bill.”
State lawmakers approved legislation that transferred $500,000 from the state’s Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office to be used for the costs associated with the litigation of HB2.
Karly Raymond, a sophomore management student from Atlanta, Georgia, said the economic fallout can be reversed.
“I think it’s reversible,” Raymond said. “It’s definitely something that we’re going to have to work on because it’s a pretty devastating thing to a lot of the people in North Carolina for everyone to look at us and see that we’ve done something like this.”
The estimated financial loss after boycotts and protests of the state is currently around $395 million.
Raymond said one of her friends moved to Asheville in order to feel more comfortable, but HB2 has made his move unsettling.
“He moved up here to Asheville specifically to get some freedom from being right outside of Atlanta,” Raymond said. “In Atlanta, the city itself is pretty open, but in the suburbs where we grew up, people didn’t take too kindly with his transition. For him to not be able to go into his own bathroom and for the state as a whole to do this, it has been really devastating for him to not be able to truly be himself.”
Frisbee said the impact of HB2 is negatively affecting Gov. McCrory’s reputation.
“I think the biggest blow to his reputation is not just that he wouldn’t back down on a discriminatory bill, but also that so many people were saying, ‘we don’t want this’ and he didn’t listen to the people of his state.”
An Aug. 10 poll from Public Policy Polling found that 30 percent of voters in North Carolina support HB2 while 43 percent oppose it. Forty-three percent of respondents said McCrory’s handling of the bill makes them less likely to vote for him and 31 percent said it makes them more likely. A majority of voters think the bill is harming the state. Fifty-eight percent think it is hurting compared to 8 percent who think it is helping. When that question was last polled in June, 49 percent thought it was hurting the state.
Mendelsohn said that while she does not vote in North Carolina, she hopes Gov. McCrory will be voted out.
“I do absentee ballots in Maryland, so unfortunately I won’t be voting in North Carolina’s election,” Mendelsohn said. “But I really hope people come to their senses and vote him out of office.”