That's the question I kept coming back to, in the months following the one-day special session in March that rammed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act into law: How did North Carolina—once a bastion of, if not Berkeley-esque liberalism, at least a forward-thinking commitment to modernity—end up synonymous with transphobia and bigotry? How did we become the target of a federal lawsuit, the subject of corporate boycotts and international ignominy, a flashpoint in the fading culture wars?
That question—how?—frames the centerpiece of this special issue of the INDY, Barry Yeoman's brilliant exploration of the history and politics that produced HB 2. But the more we thought about this singularly contentious issue—this issue that has so dominated North Carolina politics this year—the more other questions came to mind: What's it like to be transgender in the South? What's the process for changing your birth certificate? What do the teenagers HB 2 was supposedly designed to protect think about it? What does this law—and the furor it created and the activism it engendered—say about our state's future?
And so what was originally going to be a single cover story morphed into an entire issue, eight features in total, with eight writers pulling apart all the different facets of what HB 2 does and who it affects. Our designers chipped in, too, creating a poster, which you'll also find on page 30 in the print edition, that you can pull out and put up on the wall, a statement of support for LGBTQ and other vulnerable populations. Our sales folks got in on it as well, selling discounted ads to companies that wanted to make a statement about HB 2.
In every way, this issue was a team effort, a collective declaration: we are better than this. We are better than hate, better than fear, better than discrimination. And while the legislature has dug in—not bending to corporate boycotts or the NBA's threat to move the 2017 All-Star Game—so have those of us who believe in equality and basic human decency, who want to restore North Carolina's reputation as a somewhat progressive lighthouse in the too-often-regressive South.
Ultimately, I have faith that light will eventually triumph over darkness, that the arc of the universe will continue bending toward justice, that the architects of this moral abomination will find themselves subject to the same sort of disapprobation history reserves for all those who stand in the way of civil rights. Whether through political change or court edict, it will happen. It's only a question of when—and how much damage our state will incur in the meantime. —Jeffrey C. Billman
The 30 Years That Brought Us HB 2 by Barry Yeoman
Here's What HB 2 Actually Does by Paul Blest
How to Change Your Birth Certificate by Lily Carollo
What It's Like for a Southern Trans Woman to Come Out to Her Family by Hannah Pitstick
What Generation Z Thinks of HB 2 by Abigail Hoile
North Carolina's Progressive History, Now in the Rearview by Fred Hobson
The N.C. State Professor Chronicling the HB 2 Debate by Jane Porter
HB 2's One Silver Lining by Grayson Haver Currin