RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal court today heard oral argument on a motion seeking an immediate halt to provisions of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the law that mandates discrimination against transgender people in single-sex facilities, among other things.
“All I want is to use the appropriate restroom in peace, just like everyone else. It’s humiliating that this law separates me from my peers and treats me like a second-class citizen,” said Joaquín Carcaño, 28, a UNC-Chapel Hill employee and transgender man who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the law firm of Jenner & Block are challenging the law on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians, including transgender clients Joaquin, Payton, Hunter, and members of the ACLU of North Carolina. Paul Smith of Jenner & Block argued on behalf of plaintiffs in the case’s first oral argument.
“Each day, Joaquin, Payton, Hunter, and other transgender people in North Carolina are dealing with the humiliation of being singled out by this harmful law in school, at work, and in other public places because all they want to do is use public facilities safely,” said Tara Borelli, senior attorney with Lambda Legal. “We’re in court today because by requiring people to use restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity, North Carolina not only endangers and discriminates against transgender people — it also violates federal law.”
In March, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina, along with co-counsel Jenner and Block, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because it discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and is an invasion of privacy for transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.
“Every day that House Bill 2 remains on the books, transgender people in North Carolina remain in the perilous position of being forced to avoid public restrooms or risk violation of state law,” said Chris Brook, ACLU of North Carolina legal director. “This cruel, insulting, and unconstitutional law targets transgender people in North Carolina and causes irreparable harm. It must be put on hold while it is reviewed by the court.”