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Transgender Activists Land A Legal Victory Against Bathroom Law At University Of North Carolina

Photo: Gerry Broome/AP Images
Transgender students and employees on University of North Carolina campuses can use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, for now, the Associated Press reports. On Friday, a U.S. district judge placed a temporary injunction on the public university system's enforcement of HB2, the state's controversial "bathroom bill," on the basis that it likely violates Title IX protections against gender discrimination.

Temporary injunctions like this don't require plaintiffs to prove a violation has taken place. Rather, plaintiffs only need to offer enough compelling evidence that a violation may have occurred.

Two transgender students and a university employee, all represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, were the plaintiffs challenging the controversial legislation the North Carolina state government passed in March. Under HB2, people are legally required to use public restrooms that correspond to the biological sex on their birth certificates, rather than their gender identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder's injunction doesn't officially strike down the law; it only impacts restrooms on UNC campuses. Schroeder said that HB2 likely violated Title IX. He also wrote that under HB2, the three plaintiffs "will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief" and "an injunction is in the public interest."

Republican supporters of HB2 stood by their claim that allowing transgender people to use their preferred bathrooms could pose a public safety risk. In a statement responding to Judge Schroeder's injunction, North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore defended HB2 as "commonsense protections to keep grown men out of bathrooms and showers with women and young girls."

The judge countered that logic in his ruling by noting other less-discriminatory laws already in place to protect restroom privacy.

"North Carolina's peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens regardless of [the bathroom provision]," Schroeder wrote, "And there is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defence against prosecution under these statutes."

For now, UNC employee and plaintiff Joaquin Carcano is relieved and energised to continue fighting.

"Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since HB2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won't rest until this discriminatory law is defeated," Carcano told the Associated Press.