Transgender Day of Advocacy at the North Carolina General Assembly

Sarah Hogg, Advocacy & Organizing Manager at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

On Wednesday, May 25, I was pleased to represent NARAL Pro-Choice NC as a participant in Transgender Day of Advocacy, a lobbying event hosted by TurnOUT! NC, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Equality North Carolina, the Human Rights Campaign, and PFLAG. While previous advocacy days addressed how HB2 effects everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, Wednesday’s activities specifically focused on how HB2 impacts transgender North Carolinians.

Transgender Day of Advocacy began at the North Carolina Museum of History with a warm welcome by Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina and a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, followed by lobbying and social media trainings. At 10 a.m., we all gathered in the lobby of the Museum for a “Transgender North Carolinians, Families, and Friends For Repeal of HB2” press conference, where trans North Carolinians shared their personal stories, reactions to HB2, and the need for a full repeal of the law. Finally, before we headed to our lobbying appointments, we heard from Representative Duane Hall about lobbying tips, the detrimental statewide effects of HB2, and the importance of pushing bills that would repeal HB2, two of which he has cosponsored.

At 11:30 it was time to get into groups and head to our first lobbying appointment. My group, made up of myself, Georgia (a member of Triangle PFLAG), Ben (an Equality NC staffer), and Cole, Maddy, Parker, and Tony (researchers, students, and interns at Duke University working on a data project on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey), was wonderful. When we weren’t meeting with legislators, we were sharing our own stories with each other on everything from organizing in a red state to queer feminist activism to being the parent of a transgender child.

Throughout the day, our group met with Representative Nelson Dollar, Senator Tamara Barringer, and Beverlee Baker, Representative George Graham’s legislative aide. We also dropped off a number of letters urging a full repeal of HB2 to legislators who were out of their offices or in session. In a couple of our meetings, it was clear that a number of misconceptions about trans people and what they are doing in bathrooms are still prevalent among our state legislators. While these conversations were difficult to have, our two group storytellers did a fantastic job of debunking these myths by sharing their stories of being a trans North Carolinian and the parent of a trans child.

To wrap up the day, we made our way back to the Museum of History for a debrief with the other lobby groups and Equality North Carolina staff. Everyone agreed that they had deeply challenging, but also deeply rewarding conversations with legislators who initially voted in favor of HB2 (and who we were now lobbying to vote for a repeal). Participants emphasized that sharing their own stories of being a trans North Carolinian or having a trans spouse or child obviously put some food for thought in legislators’ minds, and that these Senators and Representatives often asked storytellers for more information or to stay behind to chat a bit more while the rest of their lobby group moved on. Over and over again, attendees compared their experience talking to legislators as being the water that wears down a rock: the process may be slow, but change will happen. While HB2 may not be repealed tomorrow, our presence at the legislature did make a difference.

Thanks to my lobbying group and the stories shared by other participants during the debrief, I left Transgender Day of Advocacy feeling inspired and hopeful – but there is still much work to be done. As a queer woman and reproductive rights advocate, I know how damaging and dangerous HB2 is to my community, as well as how absolutely necessary it is that reproductive rights organizations fight back against this discriminatory legislation. HB2, which seeks to legislate the way certain bodies exist, move through, and experience the world, particularly where those bodies are allowed to go or not go, is a reproductive rights and justice issue. We must continue to highlight that this bill is anti-trans, anti-worker, and anti-queer and turn up the pressure on the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal HB2.

Check out photos from Transgender Day of Advocacy below! Feeling fired up and ready to take action on HB2? Join NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and TurnOUT! NC for a Repeal HB2 canvass in Wake County on June 11.

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