200 attend meeting to learn more about HB2, how to fight it

The rest room at the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Asheville

What Emily Dawson wants in life is a workplace where she doesn’t feel threatened. At least that would be a good start. Instead, she feels more threatened since the passage of House Bill 2, which she says relegates her to a restroom full of men, who likely will be hostile at the thought of seeing her there.

Dawson was born male, but is making the transition to the body in which she said she belongs.

Despite being shy, she says she is beyond intimidation by House Bill 2, known derisively as the Transgender Bathroom Bill, which mandates she use the bathroom of the gender she was assigned at birth, not the gender with which she identifies.

“I wait until I know there’s no one in the bathroom before I go,” she said after a public meeting held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville Thursday night. “I just want to feel safe.”

Emily Dawson said after the event that it made her feel as though someone is out there supporting her. Photo by Leslie Boyd

At the meeting, a panel of attorneys and civil rights activists explained the law’s ramifications for North Carolinians. The event was sponsored by a coalition of groups including the Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality NC, the Human Rights Coalition, the NAACP of Asheville-Buncombe County, Tranzmission and the N.C. American Civil Liberties Union, which is fighting the law in court.

About 200 people turned out to hear more about the law and how to work for its repeal or defeat in court.

ACLU attorney Chris Brook explained that his organization is seeking a court injunction to prevent provisions of North Carolina’s law from going into effect until it has worked its way through the courts, especially since part of a similar Virginia law was struck down last week by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That case involved a transgender youth who would be forced to use a female rest room at school. Because schools are covered by the federal education antidiscrimination law known as Title 9, the court ruled that states can lose federal education funding if they discriminate against transgendered students by forcing them to use a bathroom where they might be harmed.

But the portions of the law that deal with bathrooms are not the only thing wrong with it, Brook argued. “We’re challenging all parts of the law that affect LGBTQ people, including workplace rights,” he said.

Two people who joined the suit on Thursday are a married lesbian couple who were denied service by a fertility clinic in Charlotte. Before HB2, they could have filed a discrimination suit in state court, but the law eliminated that option.

“One problem with only being able to sue in a federal court is that you have only a 180-day statute of limitations,” Brook said. “How many people can get it together in 180 days? Sometimes it takes longer than that to realize you were the victim of discrimination.”

Meghann Burke, an attorney who takes cases of people who have been marginalized, said it’s clear this law was driven by animus. “That’s legal terminology for being mean-spirited,” she explained.

Since the law is pretty much unenforceable, she argued, it is clear that it was written and passed to marginalize transgender people.

Tara Darby asked whether the law might be expanded to deny other rights to her and others who are transgender.

“It’s good that Title 9 might make school bathrooms safe,” Darby said. “But if they have permission to hurt people in one bathroom, don’t you think we can be hurt in any bathroom?”

Yvonne Cook-Riley, executive director of Blue Ridge Pride, said she is worried about the message the law sends, and its effects, even if it is repealed or struck down. “How do you deal with those lasting effects?” she asked. “And how do you prevent more of this?”

Burke said nondiscrimination laws need to be passed at the federal level, especially since the law forbids North Carolina municipalities and counties from passing their own nondiscrimination ordinances. In spite of this, several members of Asheville City Council are currently considering a nondiscrimination ordinance for the city.

Panelist Allison Scott, an organizer for the advocacy group Tranzmission, said transgender suicide hotlines across the country have seen huge spikes in the number of calls since HB2 was passed and signed into law. “Up to 41 percent of all trans people have attempted suicide,” said panelist Zeek Christopoulos, director of Tranzmission. “That number is about 3 percent in the general population.”

Panelist Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, president of the Asheville-Buncombe chapter of the NAACP, said her organization exists to fight discrimination and marginalization wherever it exists. “We will accept nothing less than repeal,” she said. “That’s where we are. Nothing less than repeal.”

The North Carolina NAACP is working on get-out-the-vote efforts this year to try and send the lawmakers who wrote and passed this law home in November, she said.

Tina White moved to North Carolina the day HB2 became law and now is devoted fighting for its repeal.
Tina White moved to North Carolina the day HB2 became law and now is devoted fighting for its repeal.

Tina White moved to Asheville from Hoboken, N.J., arriving at her new home the day HB2 became law.

“I have cis friends who are starting to use the ‘wrong’ bathroom in protest,” she told the panel. “I am a trans grandmother of five. I’m sure the folks at UNCA don’t really want me showering with a group of young men.”

White said after the meeting that she sees the law as an attempt to shame and humiliate people who are different, and she plans to fight it, beginning with a trip to Raleigh as part of a sit-in to protest the law.

“If anybody needs a ride, I’m going,” she announced.


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41 thoughts on “200 attend meeting to learn more about HB2, how to fight it

    • James

      Well the U.K. had no problem allowing millions of muslims to immigrate into their country and if you’ve ever read the koran or watched the news, GLBT lifestyles are not tolerated whatsoever under islam. So in other words, this travel warning from the Brits reaks of hypocrisy and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

      • bsummers

        Right. This and all the other negative reactions to HB2 won’t cost North Carolina a dime, will it?

        We’re going from being a laughing stock to a global pariah. All so a handful of local bigots can feel superior because they invoked an unfounded fear in people, and then passed a law that accomplishes nothing but increase the bigotry.

        This is a stain on the reputation of our state, and we will be feeling the effects for years to come.

        • boatrocker

          Thanks for articulating in concise form what I spend paragraphs trying to explain, Senor bsummers.

          I think for future posts, every time the phrase ‘religious freedom’ is in print, I will respond with the succinct
          “Jim Crow, 2.0” as a response.

          Let’s all flood the Internets with that in order to increase blood pressure med sales among stay at home (in the basement) far right hate mongers once they’re kicked off 4chan and Ashevilletopix for incendiary posts.

          • Lulz

            LOL the same nation with the ladette culture. Or the one weak enough to shut down entire sections for finding a .22 bullet. LOL except in Muslim sections.

      • boatrocker

        Interesting point you make there, James. As you seem to be one of the few, the proud, the new addition to the Patriots Club here
        (have you learned to end every sentence with lol, lulz or ALL CAPS yet?) I’m curious if you yourself have read the entire Koran from cover to cover yet. Yes, the entire book, not just cherry picked selections.

        Yes, in order to anticipate your response I have read it in its entirety, along with the Bible and found them both to be entertaining as well as lovely pieces of fiction.

        I worry more about male GOP politicians in bathrooms/locker rooms/hotel rooms as they seem to end up in trouble for sex crimes and such (cough Dennis Hastert/Larry Craig). Yes, I’m sure the ‘liberal media’ were simply out to get them too (snickers).

        Can we pass a law in NC to ban GOP types from interacting with our precious children too?

        I’m honestly getting tired of these articles with their respective hate monger comments that follow.

        Can’t the Mtn Xpress focus more on what it does the best? Kow towing to out of town developers, New Age pseudoscience masquerading as actual medicine and touting micro brewed beer in between reporting on news once in a while?

  1. James

    Speakers at this anti HB2 meeting included Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Marvin the Martian, Buggs Bunny and Yosemite Sam. Uh be a be a be a be a, that’s all folks!

    • bsummers

      Pretty strong insults from someone afraid to reveal their identity. These folks stood up in public and took credit for their statements. Why aren’t you willing to do the same, “James”?

      • Lulz

        LOL so says the council stepchild. Gordo McFake been on here lately to self promote while you make excuses?

    • boatrocker

      If I were forced to assign a children’s show character to you based on your posts, I think you’d be Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show.

      Sincerely, the Fozzie the Bear of the comments. Wacka wacka.

  2. bsummers

    Thanks to Carl Mumpower and Chad Nesbitt, I learned how many companies are lobbying Pat McCrory and friends to repeal HB2. I had no idea there were so many, and so many BIG companies. Thanks, Carl and Chad!

    Lionnsgate, A+E network, Fox, PepsiCo, Hyatt, Reddit, Ingersoll-Rand, The Dow Chemical Company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Smiles by Payet Family Dentistry, Northrop Grumman, Barnes and Noble, Sivan Capri Agency, Ralph Lauren, American Apparel, Qualcomm, Twilio, Udacity, Choice Hotels International, Pandora Media, EMC Corporation, NBA, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Airlines, Lowe’s Cos., Facebook, Google, Box, Salesforce, Levi Strauss & Co., Encore Music Publishers, Airbnb, Apple, Red Hat, Citrix, Square, Twitter, Lyft, Pfizer Inc., LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Dropbox, YouTube, Starbucks, Citibank, TD Bank, Hilton, Starwood, Accenture, Kellogg’s, Uber, Tumblr, Gogobot, Intel, Yahoo, Orbitz.com, CheapTickets.com, Gilt, Replacements, Ltd., Zynga, Jawbone, Braintree, Matrix Partners, Cisco Systems, The PNC Financial Services Group, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Oracle, Whole Foods Market, InterContinental Hotels Group, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, LabCorp, BD, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., Dr. Bronner’s, Herbalife, IBM, Biogen, Miramax, PayPal, Pinterest, Marriott International, Microsoft, Yelp, on and on…

    Read the letter they all signed here:


    NCGOPers will tell us they are all hypocrites and we can do without them… Um, have you guys thought this through? You really want to thumb your noses at the top executives of dozens of the biggest companies in America?

    • bsummers

      Wow, boys – you left a few biggies off your list. They must have added their names since you put up your website. I’d say that means you’re winning!

      Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Fresh Market, Xerox, Etsy, General Electric, Bloomberg, Capital One, Ernst & Young, New Belgium Brewing, Alcoa, Kohler, BASF Corp., Time Warner Cable, American Express, Campbell Soup, United Airlines, VISA, Ben & Jerry’s, Kickstarter, The Hartford, and eBay.

      (Other than Ben & Jerry’s), I don’t think you can call these people a handful of hippies that North Carolina can live without.

    • James

      They are hypocrites, thanks for sharing this list. Many of these companies do business and invest in countries where LGBT people are really persecuted – as in killed, jailed and tortured just for being that way. PayPal which threw a fit and had a press conference to announce they were cancelling job expansion in North Carolina does business with 25 countries where gay behavior is illegal and in five of those countries, the punishment is execution. The last time I read HB2, I didn’t see anything about executing men who think they have the right to use the ladies room.

      • bsummers

        You’re welcome. But if your best defense of HB2 is “at least we’re not killing transgendered people…”, you’ve lost the argument. And I’m not talking about with me – dozens of huge companies are making it clear in a very public way that North Carolina is becoming a place they do not want to do business in. America’s closest ally in the world is publicly advising their citizens to maybe not spend their money in North Carolina.

        Someday, even you will realize this was a huge mistake. It will be repealed eventually. The question is, how much economic damage and damage to our reputation around the world will happen in the meantime?

        • James

          Well the last time I checked, there were lots of Wells Fargo and Bank of America branches all throughout North Carolina. American Airlines is still making a lot of money with daily flights in and out of North Carolina airports. Hyatt, Marriott and Choice Hotels are still in business in the old north state as are Lowe’s, Whole Foods and other cowards on this list. Hey by the way, how did that economic boycott of Houston work out? You know, the one that the “human rights campaign” organized after the people of that city voted to over-ride their fascist lesbian mayor’s decision to mandate a similar ordinance like Charlotte trying to to? I’m not worried at all about the future of North Carolina.

          • bsummers

            You’re losing the argument, James. Frikkin’ NASCAR is coming out against HB2. It’s just a matter of time now.

          • James

            I’ll lose the argument when they pull out of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and forego all the revenue they make here. Shame on NASCAR by the way of allowing themselves to be bullied by a fascist group like the “human rights campaign”.

          • bsummers

            “Bullied”? You’re saying that they, and the CEOs of IBM, Northrop Grumman, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Apple, General Electric, VISA, American Express, Microsoft, Alcoa, Facebook, etc. etc. etc., some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in America were “bullied” by a gay rights organization? Good lord, I never knew the gays had so much power.

            These aren’t people who are that easily “bullied”, James – they came to a decision to oppose a terrible piece of legislation because it was the right thing to do, or at the very least, because they know that discrimination is very very bad for business.

          • Peter Robbins

            Gays have always had all the power. Remember how Sulu got the Enterprise to veer left whenever he wanted? (“I dunna know what’s holding her together, Cappin.” Well, now you do.)

          • bsummers

            Peter, I think Mr. Peck just tried to insult you.

          • Peter Robbins

            Only if you assume that he doesn’t admire gibberish. The record speaks for itself.

          • Peter Robbins

            If you don’t stop interrupting, Mr. Peck, I’m never going to get through the important investigative series you asked us to read. I haven’t even gotten to the part where the human-rights activists fake global warming so they can seduce our younguns into tax slavery.

          • As you mightily try to squeeze out something that is on topic, you don’t even manage to amuse.

          • You really don’t have to say anything of substance and you’ll be protected by the moderator. You’re like a child wandering into an adult’s party.

          • bsummers

            As for the ‘moderator’, I’m sure they’ll take note of who lobbed the first insult in this thread: “Complete gibberish”.

          • Peter Robbins

            Barry’s right. “Gibberish” would have been okay. But “complete gibberish”? Some words you can never take back.

          • It is interesting, though not much, that Heckle and Jeckle seem to think that useless chattering somehow resembles thought. But I understand your preoccupation with me. It does give your life meaning.

          • Peter Robbins

            We’re not talking about you, Mr. Peck. We’re trying to clarify whether your critique of my Star Trek comment was intended to be insult or deep thought. On its face, it seems gratuitously hurtful. Not the kind of thing a thoughtful person would do. But earnest imitation of your example compels us to eschew extreme conclusions without thorough analysis of all credible sources of internet-available information.

          • Able Allen

            Let’s keep this about the issues and not one another.

      • luther blissett

        More stunning whataboutery from Bigot James, who demands that you ignore the giant turd he left in his living room because there’s a big sewage plant ten miles away.

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