ICYMI: Governor Doug Burgum Signs Discriminatory Bathroom Bill into Law, Inviting More Instances of Harassment and Violence Against Transgender North Dakotans

by Cullen Peele

North Dakota is on track to pass more anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2023 than any other state

Bismarck, ND - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, rebuked North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for Tuesday’s signing of HB 1473, legislation, now law, that will prohibit transgender individuals from using restrooms and other facilities in domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, and university dormitories consistent with their gender identity.

This is the eighth anti-LGBTQ+ bill that Governor Burgum has signed this year. Several additional anti-LGBTQ+ bills are still advancing through the legislative process, and North Dakota is on track to pass more anti-LGBTQ legislation this year than any other state.

“LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender women experiencing domestic abuse and those currently incarcerated, already live in fear given the heightened risks of violence and harassment they face. By advancing this legislation, Governor Burgum and his extremist allies in the legislature have placed the most vulnerable members of our community in harm’s way. Advocates for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault support full inclusion of transgender people. Stopping people from using a restroom aligning with their gender identity will do nothing to create jobs, grow the economy, and lift up the most marginalized North Dakotans. The Governor should be ashamed for signing this bill into law.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

In recent years, major domestic violence organizations have expressed support for non-discrimination protections that are inclusive of transgender individuals, and have been opposed to legislation that targets bathroom access.

So far this year, Governor Burgum has signed the following discriminatory bills into law:

  • HB 1254: Bans gender affirming care for trans youth

  • HB 1333: Restricts drag performances

  • HB 1136: Legalizes “religious refusal”

  • HB 1249, 1489, and HCR 3010: Prohibits transgender students from participating in school sports aligning with their gender identity

  • HB 1139 and HCR 3010: Restricts personal identity documents to discriminate against transgender individuals

Since the reviled original “bathroom bill” HB2 was passed, and subsequently partially-repealed, in North Carolina, eight states — Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and now North Dakota— have passed legislation mandating anti-transgender discrimination in bathrooms. Now that Governor Burgum has signed HB 1473 into law, the legislation will put schools in a position of having to choose between complying with federal civil rights laws, including the United States Constitution and Title IX, and complying with discriminatory state law.

While “bathroom bills'' were very popular in 2016, the international condemnation heaped upon HB2 dissuaded many other states — including Texas — from advancing their own legislation. The Associated Press projected that HB2 passed in 2016 could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from loss of business opportunities and impact the lives of countless students. Furthermore, transgender youth are denied their right to a public education when they’re prevented from accessing restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, and “bathroom bills” are a violation of both Title IX and the U.S. Constitution. HRC and Hart Research Group conducted a 10-swing-state poll in 2020 that found at least 60% of conservative voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.

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