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Religious Tolerance logo


City ordinances and state laws concerning
transgender persons in North Carolina:

Part 1

2016-FEB-22: Charlotte City Council
considers expanding a human rights
ordinance to include lesbians, gays,
bisexuals, transgender persons,
and transsexuals.

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transgender sign

A transgender sign indicating washroom access to all persons.

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2016-FEB-22: Charlotte City Council in North Carolina considered expanding their existing human rights ordinance:

The Council had previously passed a human rights ordinance that protect some people from discrimination by public accommodations (PA's). PA's are companies that are in business to supply goods and services to the general public. They include stores, restaurants, bakers, commercial photographers, printers, bars, taxis, etc.

The city ordinance had previous protected individuals from discrimination on the basis of their race, religion, age, and gender. During early 2016, city Counselors in Charlotte considered expanding these protected groups to include the LGBT community, which is composed of:

  • Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, who are defined on the basis of their sexual orientation. That refers to the gender of persons to whom they are sexually attracted.

and

  • Transgender persons, and transsexuals, who are defined on the basis of their current gender identity being different from their birth-identified gender.
    • Most of them are MTF transgender persons who were identified by doctors as male at birth, registered as male on their birth certificate, and who now identify themselves as female later in life.

    • Others were FTM transgender persons who were identified by doctors as female at birth, registered as female on their birth certificate, and who now self-identify as male later in life.

    • A small percentage either do not identify themselves as male or female, or switch between genders repeatedly.

Unlike previous discussions elsewhere in the U.S. involving human rights legislation, there was little conflict in Charlotte, NC about protecting lesbians, gays, and bisexuals from discrimination. The wish to discriminate appears to have faded rapidly since the U.S. Supreme Court issued their ruling in mid-2015 that legalized gay marriage across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four out of five territories. (The only holdout has been American Samoa where residents are not usually considered American citizens, only American residents. As such, they are not necessarily affected by High Court's rulings.)

After gay marriages were legalized, many conservative groups who had been opposing such marriages quickly switched much of their effort to attack transgender persons and transsexuals. This was very obvious in Charlotte, where the protection to people on the basis of their sexual orientation had much support, but protection of the "trans" community was met with a fierce opposition from many religious, social and political conservatives.

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Dr. Camille Cabral

Dr. Camille Cabral is a MTF transsexual woman. She was identified as a male at birth.

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The nature of the conflict over gender identity:

A newborn is typically identified as either a male or female by the physical appearance of their genitals shortly after birth.

Their brain contains a pair of internal structures that come in one of two types: one is generally found in males; the other in females. The two types differ in size and in neuron density. For the vast majority of newborns, their gender, as defined by their genitals, match the size and neuron density of their brain structures. That is, newborns identified as male by their genitals will have brain structures that have a size and neuron density found in almost all females. However, about 0.6% of the population is born with, or later develop, a pair of internal brain structures that match the size and neuron density of those normally found only in the brains of of the gender opposite to their birth-identified gender.

Unfortunately, these structures are buried deep inside the person's brain, and invisible, whereas the genitals of a new born are readily observed. The latter are used to identify the gender of newborns and to register their gender on their birth certificates. Later in life, this minority generally describes themselves as transgender, as having the gender opposite to that on their birth certificate. They sometimes express the conflict as having the brain of a woman trapped in the body of a man -- or vice versa. This situation often results in an incredible level of personal anxiety and conflict which which human sexuality researchers have determined cannot be resolved by therapy, prayer, or any other counseling intervention.

Thus a small percentage of newborns who are identified as a male at birth, will have or later develop internal female structures in their brain which inform them that they are female. They will identify later in life as a girl. Some may take puberty blocking medications to delay puberty. Some will later decide to undergo sex reassignment surgery, and/or take hormones to alter their appearance to match the gender with which they identify. They generally present themselves as females, ask to be referred to as "she" & "her," and adopt a female name. Many are indistinguishable in appearance from other females. The reverse is also true of a smaller percentage of newborns who have a female birth-identified gender, identify as male later in life, typically ask to be referred to as "he" & "him," and adopt a male name. See the photograph above and photos of two male to female (MTF) transgender individuals elsewhere in this web site.

Most religious, social and political liberals recognize trans persons by their adult identity, and agree with the trans community that no amount of prayer or therapy will allow them to identify with their birth-identified gender. However many conservatives regard the trans community as simply "gender confused." They often refuse to call them by the personal pronouns and by name that they have adopted, and recommend prayer and/or therapy to produce change. Most conservatives always refer to transgender persons by their birth-identified gender and sincerely believe that a person's gender is fixed before birth and cannot be changed later.

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Ely Portillo, writing for the Charlotte Observer about the ordinance under consideration by the City Council, said that:

"Once again, a provision that would allow people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with has stirred the most opposition. Opponents say it would allow predators to target women and children in the restroom, while supporters say it would only offer legal protection to transgender people who might face violence if, for example, a MTF person living as a woman and appearing to be a woman, was forced to use the men’s restroom." 1

Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]

For what it is worth, in my opinion, there is a risk of men pretending to be women and attacking females in a women's washroom. There is also a risk of transgender women being attacked in a men's washroom. However, the latter is far more likely than the former, probably by orders of magnitude.

Matt Hirschy is the Director of Advancement for Equality NC, a pro-equality LGBT group. He favored the proposed city amendment, saying:

'It’s absolutely critical [that] people are protected in vulnerable places. What this [ordinance] does is add protections'." 1

Flip Benham, a conservative Christian minister, opposes the ordinance. He held a sign at the Government Center before the Council meeting that said "Don’t Make a Moral Wrong a Civic Right." He said:

"We’re going to lose this vote tonight, but you’ve got to lose to win. We’re in rebellion against God. This battle isn’t about a bathroom ordinance. We’re fighting a battle that has been fought since the Garden of Eden." 1

His mention of "a battle" is apparently referring to the concept of original sin, which most conservative Christians believe refers to a rebellion against God by Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. They further believe that this sin was imputed -- passed on -- to their children, grand children, etc. They believe that this original sin continued being passed down for six to ten thousand years. Many Christians believe that this original sin affects all present-day humans.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ely Portillo, "LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance supporters drop off petitions ahead of Monday vote," Charlotte Observer, 2016-FEB-22, at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/
  2. "Charlotte City Council approves LGBT protections in 7-4 vote," Charlotte Observer, 2016-FEB-22, at: http://www.charlotteobserver.com

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-APR-07
Latest update : 2016-NOV-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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