The North Carolina General assembly made a serious error in judgment in passing House Bill 2, now commonly known as the “bathroom law.” By applying hasty “common sense” to a highly complex issue, an effort was made to protect women and children from a perceived risk from predatory individuals. Instead, HB2 excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protection, prohibits cities and counties from enacting protective policies for these same people and prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
The unintended consequences of this bill are a net increase in danger to some women and men in North Carolina and no reduction in actual threat to all residents of North Carolina. By removing state protection for gay and transgender individuals, the bill emboldens those inclined to shame, bully and physically harm our fellow citizens. It is heartening to witness North Carolinians and individuals across the country oppose this bill.
It is human nature to be afraid of what we do not understand. In this time when legislation regarding sexual identity and relationships is changing so fast, we appreciate the complex tensions between religious and cultural beliefs. It can seem that our social structures are losing control. We appreciate that attempts to limit the behaviors of those who seem different on the surface are motivated by a wish to protect our families and ourselves. Citizens who feel threatened by social change deserve our understanding and empathy as they seek to keep their families safe. But our neighbors in the LGBTQ community also deserve our understanding and empathy as they strive to live honest and honorable lives. They deserve the love, respect and safety that we all want to build for ourselves and our families.
In our work as psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, we begin by carefully listening to the complex experiences of our patients. This approach represents a model for how we all can love our neighbors as ourselves, enhance self-esteem and self-confidence, promote dignity, generate understanding and improve mental health. Rigorous scientific studies have confirmed that bias and prejudice harm mental health. We know that anti-LGBT discrimination increases depression, anxiety and substance abuse in these groups. We also know that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are six times more likely to commit suicide while 41 percent of transgender people report having made a suicide attempt. These individuals need our understanding and our protection.
We ardently petition the General Assembly to overturn HB2 for the benefit of all residents of North Carolina.
Steve Bennett, Ph.D., president
David Smith, M.D., Community Services chair
Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue. The entire Board of Directors of the Psychoanalytic Center of the Carolinas endorsed it.