North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently passed a law that requires transgender individuals to use public restrooms that coincide with the gender on their birth certificate. This has sparked a massive outcry from transgender individuals who simply want to be recognized as their true gender identity. One transgender man has made himself internet-famous for a joke he posted on Twitter highlighting the absurdity of the North Carolina law.
James Parker Sheffield, 36, is a transgender man from North Carolina who does not resemble a woman in any way, yet is required by Pat McCrory’s law to share a public restroom with women. In response to the anti-trans legislation, James Sheffield published the following tweet.
— James P Sheffield (@JayShef) March 24, 2016
The tweet has since been retweeted more than 7,000 times and received even more likes. But despite bringing global attention to the institutionalized discrimination against transgender people, James Sheffield doesn’t find his own joke very funny. He spoke to Mic in a phone interview about the viral tweet.
“It’s super funny to think about some bearded hillbilly in a stall next to the governor’s wife while she clutches her pearls,” said the transgender man. “But it would never play out that way in reality.”
Sheffield is not the only transgender person who has raised awareness about Pat McCrory’s law. A similar post has gone viral on Facebook showing transgender man Shawn Stinson, the first female-to-male bodybuilder.
The law might seem funny on the surface, but James Sheffield suggests the reality of the situation is much scarier.
“The more likely scenario would be that I take a road trip through North Carolina — which I do often — stop at a gas station and try to use the restroom. I can follow the law and go into the women’s room in a state that’s a Stand Your Ground state with a very liberal open carry law, and if I do that, are women gonna stop and ask me if I’m trans? Or are they just going to shoot me because they think I really am a predator because all they see is some bearded guy walking into the women’s room?”
As the Huffington Post reports, North Carolina is a “stand your ground” state which legally allows individuals to use self-defense against “perceived threats.”
“Imagine me following the law and walking into a women’s room at a gas station or fast food place,” Sheffield said. “Will someone in that restroom feel threatened by a grown man with a beard walking in?”
Wife left for a #burner party wearing a Jon Snow GOT inspired coat. I'm organizing the house and listening to mix of old country music and #Beyoncé. #theoddcouple #thisiswhywework #thisoldmanhestayshome #heplaysmusiconhisown #reclaimingclosetslikeaboss #gettingitdone #beardsofinstagram #transmenofinstagram #trans #transgender
While getting shot might be a worst-case scenario, many transgender individuals do face violence and discrimination every day, especially when attempting to use the restroom of the gender they identify with. This is an even bigger issue for low-income transgender individuals who don’t have the luxury of safe and private bathrooms.
“I work in a safe space,” James Sheffield added. “That’s not the case for many trans people, especially trans women of color, who will be disproportionally impacted.”
Violent hate crimes against transgender people actually tripled last year in America, and those statistics show no sign of slowing down. The first step, as James Sheffield’s tweet shows, is raising awareness about the hate and intolerance in laws like the one passed by Pat McCrory.
Sheffield’s words caught the attention of another transgender man who responded with his own tweet.
— Dr.Dalek Therapist (@lust4apples) March 24, 2016
What do you think? Do you agree with James Sheffield? Should transgender individuals be allowed to use public restrooms of the gender they identify with?
[Image via Shutterstock]