Commentary

“Speculative” injuries for trans people, huh? What Berger and Moore need to remember about civil rights

As this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing makes clear, conservative politicians and activists in North Carolina are not about to ease up in their war on LGBT equality. Just read the remarkable statements uttered by North Carolina’s reactionary Lieutenant Governor and the head of the badly-misnamed NC Values Coalition (both of which are reproduced in the column) to get a sense of how low some badly confused souls are willing to stoop.

All that being said, the statement submitted by a lawyers working for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore as they argued against recent actions taken by Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein to chip away at state-sanctioned discrimination may have hit a new low. This is from the Associated Press account of the Berger-Moore team’s argument before a federal judge in which they contended against the idea of protecting transgender people from discrimination in access to public facilities:

“The plaintiffs’ claimed injuries are speculative,’ lawyers Robert Potter Jr. and Kyle Duncan wrote on behalf of the GOP leaders to Schroeder. ‘It is unclear whether any plaintiff will ever be injured in any way arising from using the facilities in question.'”

Did you get that? “Speculative,” huh? By such “logic” it would be “speculative” as to whether people of color were injured by being denied to “whites only” drinking fountains and restrooms during Jim Crow. It would be “speculative” as to whether Jews and Italians were injured by employers who refused to hire them because of their ethnic heritage in early 20th Century America.

Earth to Phil Berger, Tim Moore and crew: It is not “speculative” as to whether transgender North Carolinians have been, are or will be injured by policies that deny them access to restrooms corresponding with their gender identity. Indeed, it is so obvious that one need not read the reams of heartbreaking testimonials that have arisen in the public sphere in the past few years to grasp it. Simply put, when a person cannot pee in peace and comfort due to discriminatory policies implemented by government or private actors engaged in public commerce that causes an injury, guys — a very serious and tangible injury, i.e. physical and emotional pain.

And if you can’t grasp that simple and as-plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face fact, it must be concluded that the notion that either of you possesses any measure of basic empathy for your fellow human beings is, at best, speculative.

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