North Carolina’s notorious anti-transgender “bathroom bill” sparked boycotts and protest around the country, and helped bring about the downfall of its conservative governor, Pat McCrory. But the “compromise” to overturn HB2, between new Democratic governor Roy Cooper and the Republican legislature, still codifies discrimination against trans people. In addition, organizers in Charlotte are still fighting in the wake of the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. Ashley Williams is one of those organizers and spoke with me about the Uprising, the aftermath of HB2, their work on reproductive justice, and the role of dancing in the revolution.
When I talk about HB2, I like to remind folks that HB2 started as a retaliation against the Charlotte City Council for including gender and sexual orientation into our non-discrimination ordinance. [A month] later HB2 was introduced and basically voted on. It moved through very quickly. Organizing in Charlotte and in North Carolina, we were all very surprised andconcerned, but also ready to get to work. You saw a lot of direct action and rapid response work, but on the back end, we were trying to be more strategic and implement some political education, too, that looked like moving our community’s consciousness forward around trans identities and the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, on a trans person and contextually in North Carolina and the south and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
I think we did a lot of good and we learned a lot about what doesn’t work in terms of dealing with the right, the GOP, white supremacists, and also liberals. We have still been focusing our work around that. We had an HB2 teach-in or “Where are we now?” about a week before this non-repeal repeal. At that point we knew that trans folks were going to be harmed the most from this bill, as they have been throughout the beginning of even the talks on the non-discrimination ordinance. It was just a matter of time.
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