Public Bathrooms and North Carolina

The South is outraged – outraged! – over the possibility of a boy-turned-girl (but apparently not so much about girls-turned-boys) heeding nature’s call in the “wrong” public restroom.

But memories are short in the South. Not so long ago, southerners weren’t so concerned about the prospect of people of different genders sharing public restrooms, as a recent article in The New Yorker reminds us:

rest roomConsider the political implications of an African-American woman, the first to hold the office of Attorney General, informing a white governor that his state’s policy toward the transgender population is reminiscent of the days of de-jure racial discrimination. North Carolina—with its banking center in Charlotte, its substantial black middle class, and its élite universities—esteems its identity as part of a South too forward-looking to be defined by bygone bigotries. Lynch called that premise into question. She could have taken the point further: North Carolina was more than willing to countenance “all-gender” bathrooms when they served the purposes of racial segregation. Jim Crow legislation culminated in separate bathrooms for white men and white women, but only a single “colored” rest room for African-Americans, whatever their gender.

Food for thought.

 

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