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Two Women Sexually Assault Trans Woman in North Carolina Bathroom

Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C. North Carolina

North Carolina is once again at the center of a story about trans people and bathrooms.

North Carolina police confirmed that two women — 38-year-old Amber Harrell and 31-year-old Jessica Fowler — have been charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery for sexually assaulting a transgender woman in the bathroom of a Raleigh bar, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The unnamed woman said she was inside the bar’s bathroom — you know, trying to use the restroom in peace, as trans people do — when Harrell and Fowler began to abuse her verbally, eventually exposing themselves to her and then touching her. The women continued their assault outside the bathroom and ignored bartenders when they ordered the pair to stop.

North Carolina politicians have long tried to convince the general public that the opposite of this situation is true and that transgender people posed a danger to cisgender people in restrooms. In March 2016, state legislators passed HB2, an instantly controversial law that required North Carolina citizens to use the restroom that matched their gender assigned at birth instead of their gender identity.

It took a whole year for legislators to repeal the bill, and they only did that when the NCAA threatened to pull its championship games out of the state. At the time, several businesses halted plans to expand their presence in North Carolina, prompting estimates that the state would lose over $3 billion in revenue. The repeal was also only partial and many LGBTQ+ advocates said it was passed for show and still left trans people behind in terms of rights. The partial repeal — surprise! — also banned cities in North Carolina from passing any equal rights ordinances that actually help trans people.

"The rumored HB2 'deal' does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people," then-Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what's right."

Despite people still trying to push the narrative that transgender people pose a restroom risk, this story reifies that the exact opposite is true. One 2016 survey showed that 60 percent of transgender people surveyed avoid public restrooms for fear of being assaulted or harassed. Meanwhile, the number of trans people arrested for bathroom misconduct is still zero. And hey, don’t forget, more Republicans have been arrested for bathroom misconduct than trans people.

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