LaWana Mayfield Gives Visibility to the Overlooked

On February 22nd, 2016 the Charlotte City Council passed an anti-discrimination bill. The bill updated existing legislation to ban discrimination on the basis of familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. That ordinance, and indeed all local anti-discrimination legislation across the state was struck down by the Republican held General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory in a special session last week. Much of the political focus was on a provision of Charlotte’s ordinance that allowed trans* individuals to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that aligned with their gender identity. This April, we take a closer look at the situation in North Carolina, and the efforts of Charlotte City Council Member and DMO of the Month LaWana Mayfield. In a city known for DMO leaders like Council Members Patsy Kinsey and James Mitchell, we highlight LaWana Mayfield’s enduring commitment to representation in the face of Republican opposition.

The LGBT community has made significant gains in recent years with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Obergefell ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, and growing public acceptance of non-straight relationships. However this community is not a monolith, and the T part of LGBT has not benefited from the same degree of social progress as the cisgendered members of their acronym. One person who has not overlooked their hardships is Councilmember Mayfield. She voted down a previous version of the anti-discrimination bill that did not provide access for trans* individuals to use the facilities corresponding to their identity. This accommodation means that a transwoman would not have to endure the discomfort and physical threat of changing in a men’s locker room, and that a transman would not draw the ire of women by being legally forced to use their restroom. Governor McCrory and other opponents who fear that the law will allow men to access women’s private rooms ignore that the Charlotte law allows businesses to contact the police if they believe a patron is attempting to use the incorrect facility. Far from trans* individuals posing a threat to the general public, Councilmember Mayfield crafted the law with everyone’s safety in mind.

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