Among the ethical and moral quandaries North Carolina waded into when Governor Pat McCrory signed the state’s noxious LGBT bill into law, there was a more pragmatic question: How the hell are police supposed to enforce the biological-sex bathroom provision? It sounds like the cops have no idea.
The new law overturns local ordinances banning LGBT discrimination and requires people in government buildings and schools to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate. It has been called “the worst anti-LGBT legislation in the nation.” To find out exactly how it will work, Mother Jones called up several North Carolina police departments and asked. A sample response:
“Our staff, particularly our attorney’s office, is trying to figure out what it all means,” says Damien Graham, another spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department. “We haven’t mobilized our police force in any kind of different way. We’re still digesting.”
Some clearer answers came from the Asheville Police Department, which stated “We’re not checking birth certificates,” and the Greensboro department, which said it would only respond if it receives a complaint from a fellow bathroom user. So it won’t be the police who are sleuthing out trans people, but the North Carolinians who care deeply about whether their restroom comminglers were born with a soft tingly part that pokes outward or a soft tingly part that goes inward. Good luck to them.
Also, the LGBT law is civil, not criminal, and it does not lay out a specific civil penalty for breaking it, as Mother Jones notes. That means that even if a department does come up with a firm policy for policing bathrooms for illegal genitals, it’s not clear what they’re supposed to do if and when they catch someone. If you’re going to enact a sweeping program of legalized bigotry in your state, at least figure out how you’re going to execute it before you sign.