An Obligation for Declaration: A Persuasive Essay

Tensions are primed. Fissures are opening among social lines, be they racial, economic, political, etc. The security of our Democracy is quite literally at stake, and there is a common thread underpinning all of it: The United States Government has failed in its civic duties as described in our founding documents – The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States of America – and as a result, We the People, not only have the ability but an obligation to demand accountability and set right the situation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

Anyone who was raised in the American education system should know these words; words that initiated a war for freedom which, against all odds, would conclude in the formation of a new nation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence, 1776

The second of the two most important documents involved in the birth of our nation, this establishes the right to revolution as a response to a government failing to protect basic human rights given to all citizens by their Creator. It specifically states that the power of a government is derived from the consent of the governed and such governments are created by its citizens to protect those rights. In fact, this concept was so important to the founding members of our Union that, thirteen years later, they decided to reaffirm this belief in this nation’s most important founding document, The Constitution of the United States of America.

We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

-The Constitution of the United States of America, 1789

In fact, peace and justice were the first items on the menu in the pursuit of “a more perfect Union.” Peace and justice. These documents represent the sacred agreement between the State and its citizens. And thus far, our government has failed to uphold their end of this agreement.

On August 11th, 2017, Neo-Nazi, white-supremacy, and other hate groups descended on Charlottesville, VA. They were attempting to “peacefully protest” the removal of a Confederate statue. Of course, in this case, “peaceful” means chants of “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us” while armed with torches and clubs, and giving the Nazi salute. The following day, demonstrations continued, this time armed with assault weapons, militia gear, and chants of “White Power”.

Let this be clear: this was not a peaceful assembly. This was not a protected assembly. This was a Nazi rally. This was a KKK rally. Even before chemical deterrents started being used, before punches started being thrown, this assembly was violent and a threat to the peace. Violence is defined as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation”. Given the violence inherent to these groups, the government has a sworn and sacred duty to intervene in these types of demonstrations. And yet, they were given legal permits to assemble under the First Amendment. Yet, these groups do not enjoy those protections.

On multiple occasions, the Supreme Court has ruled that threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. In 1942, the Court ruled that fighting words – words designed or likely to elicit a violent response – were not protected by the first amendment. And hateful rhetoric is inherently likely to result in a violent response because it is the natural defensive response. Like a cornered animal, targeted people will resort to fighting to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In the light of this reality, how can we be so blind to our government supporting and allowing this threat to the peace and its people? Only by choice does this happen: the choice to remain silent and blind while a government acting in our name enables and supports this hateful rhetoric.

In Charlottesville, the organizers of the hateful “Unite the Right” rally were granted a permit to organize, and after that permit was stopped by an injunction, they were defended by the ACLU on the basis of their right to free speech. A right they do not enjoy. Not because they are statistically likely to encourage physical violence, but because their inherently violent message strips this right from them.

Violence is abhorrent and should be condemned. But when all other voices have been silenced by a system that has proven to mean failure for a group of people in need of help, silenced by a system that operates against the principles of the society it operates therein, then violence becomes the only voice of the oppressed. A voice calling for help through the Darkness. And we must answer that voice.

We cannot choose to sit silent and blind any longer, because “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” And while many Americans know the values for which this country was formed, it’s important to realize that governments are not immutable, and the United States government is no exception. Democracy can give way to authoritarianism. Capitalism can give rise to oligarchy. Unless We, the People, choose to stop it.

And while principles endeared by a community can change and evolve, that which does not are the inalienable rights afforded to every person by their Creator: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Therefore

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to alter their government, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such change.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal without regard to their race, gender, or identity, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that any credible threat to one’s safety poses a real and present danger to society by infringing these rights therein. To secure these rights governments are instituted among people deriving their just powers from the implicit consent of the governed and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons, but when a long train of abuses pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism and systemic oppression, it is their Duty, it is their Right, to cast off such oppressors and establish new guards for their future security.

This is the situation we once again find ourselves in. Our government has proven through actions that it no longer espouses the values and ideals for which it once stood, and it no longer seeks to serve the People.

We cannot be complacent, for complacency is complicity. These grievances demand change, and change does not come from inaction, but rather active opposition.

Opposition need not be violent; revolution need not be bloody. Change can be enacted through a revolution of ideas, as much as force. But regardless of the mechanism, change must come.

We, the People, have a right to demand a redress of grievances, and if our government fails in this, we have a duty to redress the government.

Let’s Talk: Racism

And once again, dear reader, we find ourselves in the aftermath of a tragic event that creates more offense and bigotry than positive social change. And once again, I find myself having to write about something that should, in my opinion, be rather cut-and-dry.

But, before we get into it here, can we please take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves, “When is this nonsense going to stop?” In the span of the last 60 days, we’ve seen a hate crime and act of terror against the LGBT community in which 103 were injured and 49 were killed. We’ve seen not one, but two deaths of black men at the hands of members of law enforcement, both cases being tantamount to murder. We’ve seen 11 police officers injured, 5 killed by sniper fire in an act of revenge. And yet, America seems too content to ignore the facts: that undercurrents of racism and homophobia permeate society to this day, resulting in horrific acts of violence  being perpetrated out of feelings of fear and ignorance, and being allowed to happen due to outrageously ineffectual and laughably loose gun control laws.

But I don’t want to focus on gun control or homophobia today. No, today, I need to talk about the problem of institutional racism in our modern society. Specifically, #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter.

And honestly, dear reader, I didn’t think this was an article I’d have to write. I assumed that most Americans would understand the meaning behind the Black Lives Matter movement. And yet, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend of white Americans responding to “Black lives matter!” with the phrase “Well, all lives matter.” Which means that many people, if not most, are indeed missing the point. To rebut with “All lives matter” is minimizing, offensive, and the argumentative equivalent of a government coverup. And if you honestly can’t see that, then we need to dig deeper.

Black Lives Matter is a socio-political movement that was born out of the issue of systemic police brutality toward the black community. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in the summer of 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Florida. Founded by community organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter, or BLM,  claims inspiration from such social activist movements as the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the LGBTQ Social Movement, and the Black Power movement, among others.

In the beginning, BLM operated mostly digitally, sticking to a system of hashtag activism. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has held rallies and protests, and prefers to engage in direct action tactics, making people uncomfortable enough that the issue must be addressed.

Behind it all, the BLM philosophy is to advocate for dignity, justice, and respect for all black lives through an end to violence, not escalation.

Statistics show that black americans are disproportionately targeted in cases of police brutality and violence at the hands of the criminal justice system. And this is why the Black Lives Matter movement is necessary, and why saying All Lives Matter is so upsetting.

The very concept of All Lives Matter exists out of yet another false dichotomy. One that supposes that to support Black Lives Matter is to be anti-white or anti-cop. But that simply isn’t true. Because there is no invisible “only”. No one is arguing that Black Lives are the only lives that matter. Of course all lives matter. Of course they do. Everyone knows that, and to suggest otherwise is just stupid and practically slander. What we are saying is that black lives are the ones that are being taken right now; black civil rights are the ones being infringed right now, and we need to call that to attention, so as to fix this horrifying situation for the betterment of our society as a whole.

Still having a hard time getting it? Alright. Let me put it another way. To paraphrase Reddit user GeekAesthete, “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ … However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve … that you still haven’t gotten any!” (Please click the link above to read the full comment. It’s a great point.)

“All Lives Matter” is a broom meant to sweep the unpleasantness of systemic racism under the rug so that others can ignore the problem. Because to say “All Lives Matter” is to insinuate that all lives are equally at risk. And of course they are not. I want you to do a little critical thinking experiment, dear reader. Just bear with me. Close your eyes, and think about how many white americans you can recall being shot without cause by police officers in the last two years. Can you think of just one? By name? Because I cannot. And if you can, did the media treat the victim as at-fault?

The reason I ask you to do this is because in the past two years – since the riots in Ferguson, Missouri – over 15% of all fatalities at the hands of police were black men. That’s 5 times higher than the the numbers of white men of the same age, and african americans only make up 2% of the population. These deaths include many names that I remember: Tamir Rice, Eric Courtney Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, and Alton Sterling. Please, pause here for a moment and say their names out loud to yourself, if you haven’t before. Really soak in how many names you’re speaking out loud to yourself. Is the sheer number of names not upsetting?

If you didn’t understand before, do you understand now, dear reader? Of course all lives matter. But right now, we need to focus on the the black lives that are being taken away. Because that what societies do: they improve all things for all members.

But is that all to the argument? Is there more to the movement? Of course there is, dear reader. But honestly, this is all I feel safe saying about the movement, as I am a white transgender woman, and can not even begin to truly understand the struggles faced by the black community. And my experience as a minority allows me to empathize with the black community but, as I am not black, I can never understand their unique struggles. And I would never claim to.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do everything I can to show support. And regardless of race, we should all show support. Because we are all members of the same community, and if it has failed one of us, it has failed us all. After all, if all lives really do matter, are not Black Lives part of the “all”?

Let’s Talk: Pride

Oh man, oh gosh, oh boy. This is a contentious debate and yet again, I find myself having feelings that are so complicated for an issue that is so simple. Let’s begin.

The internet is up in arms today over #HeterosexualPrideDay with fighters on both sides. Many are saying that we should be “all inclusive” and “of course straight people should have pride”. But many others, myself included, find this downright…uncomfortable. Some find it straight up offensive, but at the very least, I think it might be inappropriate. If this opinion bothers you, I apologize. But if you’re willing to hear me out on this one, read on, dear reader, read on.

The problem of Straight Pride vs. Gay Pride is a complicatedly cut-and-dry issue. Sound frustrating? It definitely is. But in order to understand why straight pride is unnecessary -and for many people- upsetting, we need to understand why LGBT Pride is a thing in the first place. And that takes us back to the Stonewall Inn, 1969.

In the wee morning hours of 1:20 AM, June 28th, 1969, four policemen in suits, two officers in uniform, a detective, and a deputy inspector entered the Stonewall Inn of Greenwich Village, Manhattan and shouted, “Police! We’re taking the place!”

This was not an unusual scene for the liberal neighborhood of Greenwich Village, or even the Stonewall itself. Raids on gay bars were very common, usually happening about once a month. However, what occurred this night was not as common, as many of us now know.

The standard procedure in the area was was to bribe the police, and then receive warning of a raid hours and sometimes days beforehand. However, the Stonewall was not expecting this raid, as A) they had been raided the Tuesday prior, and B) raids typically happened earlier in the evening between 9 – 11 PM. As such, when police entered, they  were confronted by approximately 250 patrons, mostly gay men, who were caught off guard and confused.

As police entered the establishment, the Public Morals Squad – who had been on standby outside – received the signal to move in and join the officers inside. Very quickly, standard procedure took over and the male patrons were told to line up in orderly lines and present valid identification, while those presenting female were taken into the restroom by a female officer to inspect their genitals. Anyone who was described as a “man in women’s clothes” was arrested and detained outside to await a patrol wagon. Alcohol that was unlabeled and unstamped was seized as assumed bootlegged.

Outside, as patrons were being released and escorted out of the building, a crowd was gathering. While the crowd mostly consisted of those being released, neighbors and passersby were gathering as well. Within minutes the crowd had grown to within 100 to 150 people.

Inside, the situation began to deteriorate. Transgender women being arrested were refusing to go with police and those in line were refusing to present identification. A sense of discomfort and fear spread very quickly as police grew increasingly hostile, including some officers who proceeded to grope and violate the lesbian patrons as they were frisked.

After waiting about fifteen minutes, the patrol wagons began appearing to take the confiscated alcohol and arrested, employees and patrons alike. As police began escorting those arrested from the building to the wagons, the crowd began to turn restless. Police lines had formed to keep the crowd in line, but the crowd was pushing back. As officers led a lesbian woman, described as a “typical New York butch”, to the patrol wagons, she began to plead with the crowd. She had been beaten over the head with a night stick for “complaining that the handcuffs were too tight” and was being violently shoved toward the wagon. “Why don’t you guys do something!?”

And do something they did. As police began to restrain the crowd, the crowd began jeering and pushing back. Within the crowd someone shouted, “It’s because they weren’t paid off!” To which a response was shouted back, “Let’s pay them off then!” And the crowd began throwing coins at the officers. Coins turned to beer bottles. Beer bottles turned to bricks from a nearby construction site. And the violence raged until near 4:00 AM.

And yet, this wasn’t a coordinated or organized effort. It was a spontaneous rebellion; an uprising. The LGBT community had finally had enough. After years of being labeled un-American and perverts. After years of being documented and spied on by the FBI and even the USPS. Finally, it had all come to a head this one night, in this one place.

In the aftermath of Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Movement was born. LGBT groups had exploded from a few hundred across the country to more than twenty-five hundred by 1971. On June 28th, 1970, the first pride parades were held in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. By June 28th, 1972, Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, Stockholm, Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, as well as San Francisco had joined in the annual commemoration event. The LGBT movement was mobilizing.

Since then, the LGBT Civil Rights Movement has made great strides. Most recently, in 2016, President Barack Obama named June as national LGBT Pride Month and commemorated a memorial at the site of the Stonewall riots.

This is why LGBT Pride is important, and the notion that straight people deserve a pride parade as well is…troubling. Because, that very much means that they have missed the point entirely. See, Pride is not a festival. It’s not Mardi Gras for queers. Pride is an event to memorialize those we have lost for the cause. To remind us that the fight is not over. To reflect on where we came from and how far we’ve come. To look ahead at how far we have yet to go and to mobilize towards that goal.

This past week, I was blessed with the opportunity of witnessing Pride weekend in Seattle. And while it was beautiful and freeing to see so many people celebrate love, integrity, individuality, and self-expression, it was also sad to see how many “tourists” turned out to ogle those in facepaint and rainbow suspenders. Or those who turned out for the purpose of buying merchandise and street food. Too many people showed up with the expectation that pride was just a spectacle, a festival, devoid of deep meaning and simply a summertime celebration.

And that is false. You’d like a straight pride? Why? Sell me on the idea. Convince me that you need one. Because that’s what we had to do. We had to fight and bleed for ours. We had to cry and, indeed, die for ours. We have suffered police brutality, and murder. We have suffered homelessness and mass shootings. We have to hear praise for our suffering and legislation that dehumanizes us.

When heterosexuals are afraid to walk the streets holding hands with their loved ones, or when straight people have to live in fear of being beaten or killed for being themselves, then you can – and should – have a pride celebration. But as it stands, you are not being shamed or denied basic rights on a daily basis. You are not oppressed. You already have a pride. You have every day to be accepted and proud.

And I am not saying that straight people shouldn’t be proud. Everyone should be proud of who they are. It’s important. But Straight Pride as an event doesn’t need to exist. Gay Pride exists to remember our struggles and celebrate our victories, because of and over those that oppress us respectively. A Straight Pride event just serves to diminish that fact and once again push us back into the shadows. And I for one am unwilling to give up the light of day.

“Gay Pride was not formed out of a need to celebrate being gay but instead our right to exist without prosecution… So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride month or movement, straight people should just be thankful they don’t need one.” -LZ Ganderson

Let’s Talk: Religious Freedom

“Religious Freedom.” It’s a buzz phrase. We hear it a lot in political arguments about all kinds of things: the death penalty, abortion, LGBT rights, etc. But when we use religious freedom as a defense, we need to make sure we’re using it correctly. And in order to do that, we need to really understand what ‘religious freedom’ actually is.

So where does religious freedom come from? Well, when America was being formed, there were a lot of pretty radical ideas going around. One of which was the freedom to practice whatever religion one might choose without persecution. Today, this doesn’t seem so radical. And it shouldn’t! It is important to have faith! And it is more important to be free to practice one’s faith unimpeded. But there is a large difference when it comes to being free to practice your faith without persecution, versus using your faith as a crutch to persecute others.

Let me explain what I mean, and I’m going to use an analogy that hits pretty close to home for me: civil rights for LGBT Americans. Let’s say a young trans girl wants to use the girls’ restroom at her school. She’s in 6th grade, struggling to accept herself (as we all do at that age), and all she wants is to be able to pee in peace like the other girls. But instead, the school tells her that she has to use a different restroom because a group of parents sent a letter to the school complaining about a ‘violation of their religious freedom’. What exactly do the parents mean by this? Violating their religious freedom? But this little girl isn’t doing anything to bother you at all! “Nonsense!” they say. “The school is forcing our young Christian daughters to be in the presence of sin and a sinner! This violates our religious freedom!”

But I have to ask these parents, “What freedom do you think is being encroached here?” Because no one is forcing these parents, or their children for that matter, to accept this young trans girl. You are still free to think she’s a sinner. What you are not free to do, however, is deny her the right to be treated like a basic human being. Because religious freedom is the right to practice your faith without persecution. It is not the right to persecute others based on your faith.

Because – and this is the important nugget here – your beliefs do not matter outside of you. And I know that this might sound very insensitive. Dismissive, even. But believe me when I say that couldn’t be further from the truth. I respect all people’s beliefs. Even the ones I don’t agree with. Especially the ones I don’t agree with. To me, religion, faith, they’re both very personal things. And finding them is a journey that everyone must go through. Some people find them in religion, others find them in science and logic (like myself). Some people find them in both, or neither. But everyone has a faith system in some capacity. And they are all valid. They all help us as people.

And I understand that when you find something that works for you, you get excited and you want other people to feel the way you do, so you share your beliefs. But in the end, it’s all personal. And just as you have the right to practice your faith, I have the right to not practice it. Or the right to practice something else.

Is this a personal attack on you? Of course not. But if you want the world to be tolerant of you and the things you hold dear, you have to be willing to shell out some tolerance in turn. You don’t have to agree with those opposing beliefs. Hell, I personally don’t think you even need to entertain the notion. But you have to let them be free to practice what they believe too. Because religious freedom is a two-way street.

“Whoah there, Dany. You’re getting off track.” You’re right, dear reader. I apologize. It’s just that I get so very worked up over the issue of freedom of religion! But you’re right, let’s get back to it.

So, what about that little trans girl who just wants to pee? What should we do for her?

Well, I’d like to perform a little experiment. And this could get pretty…upsetting, but I need you to bear with me, dear reader. Let’s reread the story above, except replace “trans girl” with “black girl” and all the mentions of her being a “sinner” to her being “inferior”. Go on, I’ll wait.

Wow. Pretty offensive, no? Sounds like a scene out of an eye-opening docudrama set in the 1960s, right? Well, bingo.

The same tactics being employed against LBGT americans are the ones that were used against african-americans during the Civil Rights movement. And now, looking back, it seems absurd that white people wanted to be segregated because they thought they were somehow superior. Religious freedom was a pretty common defense in the Civil Right movement, in fact!

But nowadays, if someone tried to stop an african-american from using the bathroom because it “violated their religious freedom”, we’d tell them to “cut the shit” and label them a racist. Because that seems absurd to us. Just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they should have to be heckled when they want to pee. Black people deserve rights! Black lives matter!

And of course they do! But so do queer lives. And all lives. Everyone matters!

Because, in the end, we can’t claim “freedom and rights for all” and then deny those things to specific groups. If you have religious freedom to think I’m a sinner, then I have religious freedom to think you’re wrong. But I can’t force you to believe otherwise, and you can’t force me to pee somewhere else.

*Man, this took me so long to write. I spent like 3 weeks trying to get this one written, ’cause I kept getting so worked up and didn’t know what direction to take or how to reach the destination I wanted. I apologize if this one is a bit shorter than usual.

Federal Court of the 4th Circuit rules on Title IX

So, this is couple days late because I spent most of the day researching for this post. I wanted this to be a factual article, as well as an opinion piece. But today’s Trans* Tuesday post is about a historic Federal Court ruling on the definitions outlined within Title IX on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and how it impacts existing legislature within the 4th Circuit, including HB2. Let’s dive right in.

Today (Tues. April 19th, 2016), the Federal Court of the 4th District of the United States ruled in favor of a 16 year-old transgender boy suing his school board’s decision to bar him from using the men’s restroom. There’s a lot to talk about here, but first, we need to start with what Title IX is.

Title IX of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 states

“[n]o person . . . shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,”

and continues to detail some of these benefits, including:

  1. Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities;
  2. Provision of medical and training facilities and services;
  3. Provision of housing and dining facilities and services;

Title IX also continues, saying

“separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex, but such facilities provided for students of one sex shall be comparable to such facilities provided for students of the other sex.”

This is further bolstered by a Federal Department of Education opinion letter dated January 7, 2015, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights wrote: “When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex . . . a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”5 J.A. 55.

Boom. Great news, right? Case dismissed.

Well, no. The school board for Gloucester County Public Schools (GCPS) suggests that “a restroom may not be educational in nature and thus is not an educational program covered by Title IX.” Excuse me, but what?

That argument is shaky at best. Just because classes aren’t held in bathrooms, it’s not covered under Title IX? Thankfully, the federal court has a different interpretation.

Except as provided in this subpart, in providing any aid, benefit, or service to a student, a recipient shall not, on the basis of sex:

(1) Treat one person differently from another in determining whether such person satisfies any requirement or condition for the provision of such aid, benefit, or service;

(2) Provide different aid, benefits, or services or provide aid, benefits, or services in a different manner;

(3) Deny any person any such aid, benefit, or service; . . .

(7) Otherwise limit any person in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity.

34 C.F.R. § 106.31(b). We have little difficulty concluding that access to a restroom at a school, under this regulation, can be considered either an “aid, benefit, or service” or a “right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity,” which, when offered by a recipient institution, falls within the meaning of “educational program” as used in Title IX and defined by the Department’s implementing regulations.

This is a historic ruling. This ruling paves the way for a SCOTUS ruling protecting against trans* discrimination under Title IX, and potentially the greater Civil Rights Act in general. But more importantly: The 4th Circuit includes North Carolina. A state that has been infamously plastered across millions of televisions and periodicals as of late, due to an insidious bill passed in their state: House Bill 2.

HB2 is being called an anti-LGBTQ bill for many reasons, but chief among them is the law changing the definition of sex in the state’s anti-discrimination laws to biological-sex, and the provisions it makes for barring any protections from anti-discrimination legislature to gays and lesbians. In short, this bill makes it illegal for transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they identify with, and it allows businesses and individuals free reign to deny the LGBTQ community services and benefits.

This is hugely controversial. And rightly so; this bill is pure hate wrapped in a ‘legalese’ tortilla, like some evil burrito. As such, the outcry has been deafening. Protests have been almost non-stop. Corporate activism is on the rise with such companies as Red Hat, Dow Chemical, Biogen, Wells Fargo, American Airlines, Lowe’s, PayPal, Marriott International, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, IBM, Yelp, and Salesforce. On March 29, 2016, an open letter signed by 80 corporate CEOs against House Bill 2 was sent to Governor McCrory.

And the commercial fallout doesn’t stop there. Multiple film production companies, such as 21st Century Fox and Lionsgate have refused to produce in the state for good. The NBA and other sports agencies are considering canceling sports events. Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert just over a week ago.

Even the Federal Government isn’t happy with this bill. The Obama administration is currently debating whether this bill makes the state ineligible for any kind of federal funded assistance.

State and local governments across the country have spoken out against the bill, banning travel to North Carolina, including Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington; the District of Columbia; the counties of Cuyahoga, Ohio, Multnomah, Oregon, and Summit, Ohio; and the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, New York City, Oakland, California, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, Providence, Royal Oak, Michigan, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Seattle, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Florida, and Wilton Manors, Florida.

Even the North Carolina cities of Carrboro, Greensboro, Durham, Chapel Hill, Asheville and Raleigh are in open opposition to the bill.

But now, opponents to HB2 have a real chance at overturning it, thanks to the 4th Circuit decision. But don’t be mistaken. This is not the end of the fight. It’s simply a federal court ruling on the meaning of Title IX, which applies to education. However, federal cases and lead to supreme court cases, as with the fight for marriage equality, culminating in the SCOTUS ruling last summer.

And something else to keep in mind, the 4th Circuit didn’t completely overturn the district court’s decision in the Gloucester County Public Schools case. Instead, it remanded it back to the District Court, stating that the original ruling was without basis and unconstitutional. Which is still a big deal! But there is a long way to go.

This fight is not over, but rather, it is just beginning. Let’s go get ’em.

For anyone interested, you can read the full 69 page ruling of the 4th Circuit case here.