WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Although LGBTQ activists had hoped for a swift injunction against the bathroom-dictating sections of House Bill 2 (HB2), a recent brief filed by North Carolina defendants has silenced any expectation of a decision before public schools begin once more. The 518-page brief effectively delays trans* children’s hopes for gender-inclusive accommodations at school, all while citing the same old “safety” arguments, and testimony from anti-LGBTQ “scientists.”
McCrory and company begin by reiterating the line they’ve been using to defend HB2, that it is “commonsense.” Further, the defendants claim that “A preliminary injunction would subject the people of North Carolina — and especially women and girls — to serious safety and privacy risks … male predators could easily exploit the subjective access policy favored by the United States to invade the privacy and safety of North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Citing many articles about sexual predation and pedophilia, the state once more aligns trans* people with predators who pose a risk to “vulnerable” women and girls.
This, while assuring readers that “The General Assembly was focused — not on disparaging transgender individuals — but rather on a commonsense concern for preserving everyone’s privacy and safety in intimate settings.”
“Everyone” does not include trans* people, in the governor’s definition.
The document goes on to argue that “Nearly every federal court to consider the question holds that Title VII does not encompass gender identity or transgender discrimination.” The brief reiterates HB2’s insistence on “biological sex” as a more concrete definition for gender than gender identity.
The brief describes the plaintiff’s argument that “sex” is determined by gender identity as “outlandish” and “avant garde,” and claims that the United States’ argument “contradicts accepted medical and scientific standards and should be rejected on its own terms — assuming the Court ever reaches those irrelevant questions.” However, when it comes down to science itself, McCrory and company select evidence from highly slanted sources:
“Sex is accordingly a ‘binary,’ either-or proposition: a person is either male or female, and the hypothesis of a ‘third’ sex is contrary to a sound medical and physiological understanding of the human person,” claims the brief, effectively dismissing the reality of intersex people born with a combination or variation of male and/or female genitalia.
The brief intones that “intersex” people “do not constitute a ‘third’ sex, but instead have medically verifiable conditions requiring careful evaluations and therapeutic interventions.” These interventions may be presumed to assign the individuals one of the binary sexes to which the state legislature is so attached.
Citing the term “gender dysphoria,” authors of the brief claim that “The condition is properly understood as a psychological pathology requiring compassionate care and treatment, because incongruence between one’s gender identity and one’s sex is not considered a normal developmental variance.” The choice to label trans* people as abnormal will undoubtedly inspire backlash among LGBTQ advocates.
In perhaps the most controversial statement of the document, the brief declares that trans* children are often influenced by “familial psychopathology (especially paternal) and a history of abuse.”
In spite of the brief’s early claims that HB2 was not intended to target transgender persons, the majority of the document does just that. McCrory and company write that “so-called ‘gender affirming’ treatments are counter-productive,” calling the movement to gender-inclusive restrooms “misguided.” The authors, again, prioritize imagined risks to women and children over the very real risk of violence that trans* people face every time they have to pee.
Federal Judge Thomas Schroeder must weigh the arguments made in this brief against the arguments promoted by the plaintiffs, the U.S. Department of Justice among others. qnotes will keep readers apprised of further developments.