CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As City Council hears tonight from a list of 120 speakers on a contentious LGBT non-discrimination ordinance proposal, anti-LGBT activists are confronting transgender people attempting to use Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center bathrooms.
qnotes has received two reports of confrontations of transgender people using the government center’s bathrooms, including one confrontation in which anti-LGBT street preacher Flip Benham, once convicted of stalking a local abortion doctor, confronted a 17-year-old transgender girl.
Olivia, 17, told qnotes she went to use the women’s restroom on the second floor of the government center. Inside, everything was fine and she heard no complaints from the adult women in the restroom. But when she came out, Olivia says a man confronted her, called her a “young man” and said she shouldn’t have been in the women’s restroom.
[Ed. Note — We have opted not to publish Olivia’s or her mother’s last name due to safety concerns.]
Olivia also said that Benham joined in the confrontation. Benham’s fellow activist, Ante Pavkovic, apparently recorded the incident, but Benham refused to show qnotes the video, saying he’ll send it to Sean Hannity at Fox News.
“I don’t want a pervert like yourself trying to misrepresent what happened in there when that young boy went into that bathroom with the young girls,” Benham said.
The teenager said she responded angrily, calling Benham an “asshole,” but her mother, Darlena, said she felt Benham was the aggressor. She stepped between them. As they walked away, Benham allegedly said the teenager should be arrested.
Benham called the teenager a “punk” and a “pervert” and claimed there were children in the restroom.
“He was in the bathroom with the kids. That boy was in with our girls,” Benham said, when asked if he thought it was appropriate to confront a 17 year old.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Captain Mike Campagna, on scene at the government center, said he had not heard any reports of confrontations at restrooms, but that CMPD was monitoring situations and would be prepared to prevent them if they occurred.
One other transgender person, activist Janice Covington Allison, was apparently also confronted by anti-LGBT activists on the government center’s second floor.
qnotes was unable to speak to Allison for details, though she confirmed the incident via text.
One of the most contentious components of the proposed ordinances has been an update to the city’s public accommodations law. Opponents have claimed it would allow predators to put women and children at harm. Supporters of the ordinance have called such claims scare tactics and said transgender people are most often targeted for harassment or violence, not the perpetrators of violence.
Ordinance debate continues
As of this story’s publication, Charlotte City Council was hearing from their 81st speaker on the proposed ordinances. A total of 120 had signed up to speak.
Follow live updates from qnotes via Twitter and the hashtag #cltequality.