The woeful tale of North Carolina’s campaign to demonize and discriminate against transgender Americans just took a dangerous turn. A high school in North Carolina has just passed a rule which would allow high school students to carry pepper spray with them specifically to “defend themselves” against their transgender peers. “Depending on how the courts rule on the bathroom issues, it may be a pretty valuable tool to have on the female students if they go to the bathroom, not knowing who may come in” said school board member Chuck Hughes.
This is not only discriminatory, this is also extremely dangerous, as it puts the health and emotional well-being of trans people at risk. Can you imagine being a trans student and having another student pepper spray you for simply using the bathroom (and do it without getting into any trouble with school officials)?
Some concerned board members, however, raised concerns that the sprays might be used for other, non-defensive purposes. They cited past incidents where pepper spray was used on teachers, but were overruled in the rush to provide debilitating weapons to high schoolers to use against transgender students.
While the author does not discount a woman’s right to carry defensive sprays, the fact that this debate was framed with the state’s discriminatory “bathroom bill,” which would force transgender Americans to use the public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates, is extremely disturbing.
Conservatives, having lost the culture battle over same-sex marriage, have contrived an imaginary panic over predatory transgender Americans when it’s really conservative white males we should all be worried about.
Colin Taylor is the managing editor of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.