Monday, April 11, 2016

An open letter to Michael L. Brown

My response to Michael L. Brown's open letter to Bruce Springsteen and his band...

Dear Michael,

As a sixth generation North Carolinian and a life-long resident of the state who attended college in Charlotte (UNCC) and has worked* in the Queen City for the last twenty-five years, I read with interest your open letter to Bruce Springsteen about his boycott of North Carolina over HB2. In your letter you asked Bruce a number of questions which raise even more questions in my mind.

So, please allow me to ask you some questions.

First, HB2 aside, how do you know if someone is really a "woman" or not? Is it determined entirely by how they look? If so, do you think that it might be hard to make judgements about a person's gender based entirely on how they look? What about a woman that looks like a man (but identifies as a woman)? Do we need to check birth certificates or inspect their genitalia to be sure? If not, how do we really know?

Second, what about an intersex person with ambiguous outer genitalia? Where should they pee? Did you ever stop to consider that? Are you also aware that our knowledge of the biology of gender is still evolving? Do you actually know any transgender people? Have you talked to them about this issue?

Perhaps I’m being too abstract here, so let’s get really practical. Let’s say that a transgender male - who looks very male and has had sex reassignment surgery but hasn't updated their birth certificate yet - let's say they need to pee. Do you know which bathroom HB2 requires this person to use? Do you know that this person is required to use the women's room on the way to the register of deeds office to update their birth certificate, and they're required to use the men's room on their way home?

Also, can you point me to the enforcement mechanisms in HB2 that will ensure "rapists and voyeurs and pedophiles don't have free access to our women and daughters in the safety of their own bathrooms and locker rooms?" What stops these predators from dressing as women and going to women's bathrooms to commit crimes today? What's our plan to keep these predators out? What's our plan to protect transgender youth from discrimination and abuse in bathrooms? What our plan for dealing with HB2 vigilantes trying to enforce this new law? What's our plan to protect our children from sexual abuse by clergy and coaches and elected officials?

Finally, is your group still on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of anti-LGBT hate groups? Can you explain why you considered it a "badge of honor"** to be on the SPLC's list? And why do you persist in spreading misinformation about the impact of HB2? Will you be writing an open letter to Jimmy Buffett next? Or Nikki Haley? Did you go to Raleigh today? Are you going to Greensboro tomorrow? Have you reached out to Justin Bieber yet?

Image Credit: ABC News

Footnotes (in the interest of full disclosure):

* I work for a company that signed the letter urging repeal of HB2, but I do not speak for them.
** I consider it a "badge of honor" to be a member of several local and national secular groups that were on the American Family Association's "bigotry map" (RIP), but I've never had (nor will have) any association with groups on the SPLC list. Google it.

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