Ex-N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory Offers His Take On Transgender Rights With Obama-era rules on bathroom use by transgender students rescinded, NPR's Steve Inskeeps asks former Gov. McCrory about the future of the issue. North Carolina was central to the controversy.

Ex-N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory Offers His Take On Transgender Rights

Ex-N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory Offers His Take On Transgender Rights

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With Obama-era rules on bathroom use by transgender students rescinded, NPR's Steve Inskeeps asks former Gov. McCrory about the future of the issue. North Carolina was central to the controversy.


Last week, when the Trump administration reversed federal policy on transgender students, we thought about the politician who rose to national attention because of this issue - former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.


McCrory signed a state law that, in effect, requires individuals in public institutions to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds to their biological sex at birth. The Obama administration told schools receiving federal funding that they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

MARTIN: When we called up former Governor McCrory, he applauded the Trump administration for rescinding that guidance. He told us President Obama had overreached and said local institutions in North Carolina had already come up with good solutions.

PAT MCCRORY: In many schools where you have maybe a few students who have gender identity issues, the principals were dealing with this issue in a common-sense manner in letting someone having this issue have their own facility if they needed to shower.

MARTIN: Our co-host Steve Inskeep spoke with the former governor recently. And he asked him about an upcoming Supreme Court case that deals with this very matter of separate facilities.

STEVE INSKEEP, BYLINE: Your suggestion that there should be some third alternative for transgender people actually will...

MCCRORY: Or option, yeah.

INSKEEP: ...Actually will be challenged in the Supreme Court case as we understand it because the person who's suing is Gavin Grimm, teenager in Virginia, girl at birth, says he's a boy. And he objected to using a separate unisex facility at his school. He said this to NPR's All Things Considered.


GAVIN GRIMM: The problem with mandating that I use alternate facilities is I'm essentially being forcibly segregated from my peers. I'm not unisex. I'm a boy.

INSKEEP: Governor, what's Gavin Grimm missing?

MCCRORY: Well, first of all, he's limiting this only to restrooms. What happens when he uses a shower? I think we're in a very, very uncharted-water situation. And we're changing the basic values that we've used in our schools for decades and decades. This is a major change in culture norms that, again, I disagree with the Civil Rights Division of the Obama administration. I think it was right for President Trump to question that directive and that authority coming out of the executive branch.

And frankly, either this is going to be changed by rewriting the 1964 Civil Rights Act or redefining, by the courts, the 1964 Civil Rights Act on how we define the term sex. The word sex is used in the '64 Civil Rights Act. And that's always been assumed that we've used the definition that has been used for many, many generations of what a male is and what a female is. And that was usually determined by the doctors...

INSKEEP: What do you...

MCCRORY: ...Not by politicians.

INSKEEP: ...What do you say, Governor McCrory, to people who say - and I bet someone has told you this - that when you talk about giving someone their separate option of restroom, you're talking about a separate-but-equal situation?

MCCRORY: I'm very sensitive to that, but I'm also extremely sensitive to the 99.6 percent of the population that would have to adapt to that one measure in respecting their privacy. What do we do about our prison systems? What do we do about our YMCAs? What do we do about our highway rest stops? And how do we define gender identity from a legal standpoint, or even the word transgender or gender expression?

Right now, as I've learned about this suit, gender expression is someone who likes to express themselves of the opposite gender, even though they know they're of one gender. And we actually have individuals that may express themselves of one gender during the day and of another gender during the night. This is a very complex issue. And I recognize that, and I have the courage to also present the other viewpoint of this, also.

INSKEEP: When you presented your viewpoint - let's remind people what happened. You became closely identified with HB2, a law in North Carolina that prevented localities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances regarding transgender people, among other things that were in that bill. It was fiercely criticized. And in last year's election, you lost when other Republicans won North Carolina. I know you fought for a recount. You then made a very gracious statement and stepped aside. What were the people of North Carolina saying when they voted you out, even as other Republicans won?

MCCRORY: Well, I lost by 10,000 votes out of 4.6 million. And there're probably 10,000 reasons why I lost. Most of it was money. I was outspent 2 to 1 by a lot of money raised on this issue. But that doesn't mean just because I lost the election - and I regret losing that election because we did a heck of a job rebuilding our economy and doing great things in education regarding teacher pay. But I do think politicians ought to have the courage to stand up and go, what's right?

I also firmly believe there shouldn't be discrimination based upon one's sexual orientation. I don't think we should have different laws in every city and state and county in the United States of America. I think we should have one civil rights law for the whole United States of America regarding sexual orientation. But I also don't believe that we ought to change the definition of gender. I think those are two completely separate issues. And my opponents, I think, did a successful job in integrating the two when the two should not have been integrated.

INSKEEP: Given that you did lose in that very narrow result, should the State Legislature in North Carolina go ahead and repeal HB2?

MCCRORY: Well, again most people, including yourself, probably haven't read all of HB2. And there are parts of HB2 which I reversed as governor. In fact, I did an executive order ensuring that there is no discrimination in North Carolina in hiring and firing based upon sexual orientation.

But I also firmly believe that in a middle school or a high school, a male should not be able to use the females' locker room or shower facility. And I'm not apologizing for that. I just think it's common sense. And I think - this is why I think sooner or later, the courts are going to decide what is now the definition of gender or sex in the United States of America. And whatever the courts decide, I will follow.

INSKEEP: Pat McCrory, former Republican Governor of North Carolina. Governor, thanks very much.

MCCRORY: I hate that you said former.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Hard to get used to, is it?

MCCRORY: Yeah, it is. But listen, this deserves a thorough discussion and not soundbites on a very complex and emotional issue. And I appreciate you allowing me to do just that.

INSKEEP: All right.

MCCRORY: Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Thank you, take care now.

MARTIN: That was Steve Inskeep speaking with former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

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