North Dakota is on track to pass more anti-LGBTQ legislation this year than any other state. Governor Doug Burgum signed eight discriminatory bills into law in 2023, with more still advancing through the legislative process. The latest bill, HB 1473, prohibits transgender individuals from using restrooms and other facilities in domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, and university dormitories consistent with their gender identity. The move has been criticized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. The organization says the legislation puts the most vulnerable members of the community in harm’s way, particularly transgender women experiencing domestic abuse and those currently incarcerated.
Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director, and Senior Counsel, says advocates for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault support full inclusion of transgender people, and stopping people from using a restroom aligning with their gender identity will do nothing to create jobs, grow the economy, and lift up the most marginalized North Dakotans. The HRC and Hart Research Group conducted a 10-swing-state poll in 2020 that found at least 60% of conservative voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
In recent years, major domestic violence organizations have expressed support for non-discrimination protections that are inclusive of transgender individuals and have been opposed to legislation that targets bathroom access. However, since the reviled original “bathroom bill” HB2 was passed and partially repealed in North Carolina, eight states, including North Dakota, have passed legislation mandating anti-transgender discrimination in bathrooms.
The signing of HB 1473 into law will put schools in a position of having to choose between complying with federal civil rights laws, including the United States Constitution and Title IX, and complying with discriminatory state law. While “bathroom bills” were very popular in 2016, the international condemnation heaped upon HB2 dissuaded many other states, including Texas, from advancing their own legislation. The Associated Press projected that HB2 passed in 2016 could have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 10 years from the loss of business opportunities and impacted the lives of countless students.