Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is having none of the anti-transgender bigotry GOP state lawmakers across the country are trying to get in on, responding to an anti-transgender bill with an executive order extending protections to transgender communities in the Commonwealth.
This week, Virginia state delegate Robert G. Marshall introduced a bill that echoes North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law banning transgender people from using a bathroom that does not align with their sex assigned at birth—so basically forcing them to use the wrong bathroom in a lot of cases. Marshall decided to add some extra awful to the Virginia legislation, which would also require schools to out students to their parents if they act or present in a way that does not align with their assigned sex. This provision is dangerous to transgender youth, who are at high risk for experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges, especially when faced with family rejection.
It’s an outrageous proposal and governor McAuliffe vowed to veto the legislation if it ever makes it to his desk. To make it clear transgender people are welcome in Virginia, McAuliffe also issued an executive order prohibiting the state from doing business with groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As his first act as governor three years ago, McAuliffe issued an executive order barring the state itself from discriminating against LGBT employees.
The issue of bathroom access for transgender people in Virginia is legally murky. A closely watched case the Supreme Court will hear this year features a fight over whether a transgender teenager in Virginia can use the bathroom in line with his gender identity at school. The case challenges an Obama administration rule that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. A lower court ruled in favor of the student, but the Supreme Court has stayed the decision pending their decision. The high court has yet to hear the case, which could be a major triumph or blow for transgender rights. A decision is expected by the end of the summer.