The recently passed HB 142, along with its predecessor, the notorious HB 2, has created an atmosphere of fear among transgender athletes that even affects their ability to compete, according to Chris Mosier, the first transgender athlete to qualify for Team USA.
Speaking on a conference call with journalists Friday, along with state and local ACLU officials, Mosier said he had to make a tough decision about whether to return to Cary later this month to compete in the USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championships. Mosier’s event, the duathlon, involves stretches of running, biking, and more running.
During a trip to Cary last year, he recognized that the presence of anti-LGBTQ legislation and sentiment placed pressures on him that cisgender athletes did not face. However, he’s decided to appear at this year’s event anyway, he said.
“It’s important for me to show up and compete because that sends a message that we will not be stopped,” Mosier said.
Among other provisions, HB 2 required people to use public restrooms that corresponded with the gender listed on their birth certificates, presenting unprecedented difficulties for transgender people. State legislators passed the law in a rapid-fire process in March 2016, creating a backlash that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and sullied its reputation. On March 30, after protracted legislative negotiations, Governor Cooper signed HB 142, which repealed the bathroom provisions of HB 2. However, it also prevents local governments for enacting local antidiscrimination ordinances until December 2020.
Opponents of the so-called compromise, including those involved in Friday’s conference call, have said HB 142 failed to meet the goal of completely repealing HB 2 and requires further resistance directed at the NCAA, which has said it will return championship events to North Carolina, and the state legislature.
“This is not a clean repeal of HB 2; it just reinforces many of the worst parts of that law,” said Sarah Gillooly, the policy director of the state ACLU. “Cities and universities cannot guarantee transgender people will be safe.”
Mosier recalled details of his trip to Cary last year, of filling up his car with gasoline before entering the state and attempting to spend as little money as possible in North Carolina. HB 2 and efforts in other states to pass similar legislation have heightened the concerns that transgender people already face, he said, recalling an incident at last year’s Cary competition.
“Somebody asked me if I was Chris Mosier, and I jumped because I thought I was going to be attacked,” he said. “We know that these laws single out transgender people like me by sending the message that we are not worthy of protection.”