Five-time Grammy Award-winning musician Sir Elton John blasted North Carolina’s recently enacted “transgender bathroom” law, writing in an op-ed Tuesday that the law is “dangerous” and “traumatic” for transgender individuals.
In an op-ed for The Hill, John targeted North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory over what he claimed is the message the governor sent by signing the legislation last month: that “the actual experiences of transgender people have no place in a debate over their basic rights.”
“This brand of ignorance deliberately shuts out the perspective of an already marginalized community,” the “Rocket Man” singer wrote. “As the father of two children, I would hope their world is free of discriminatory, hateful legislation like North Carolina’s.”
McCrory signed HB2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, into law last month. The legislation mandates that transgender individuals use public restrooms that correspond with their biological sex, and also prohibits cities in North Carolina from enacting their own non-discrimination ordinances.
In the wake of the state’s passage of the law, several high-profile entertainers — including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and the rock band Pearl Jam — have cancelled concerts in the state in protest. Other artists have vowed to raise money to fight the law, while one transgender punk rock singer recently burned a copy of her birth certificate during a show there.
“Forcing transgender people to use the bathroom of a gender with which they don’t identify isn’t just inconvenient or impractical,” John wrote. “For many, especially young students still grappling with their transition, it can be traumatic, and at worst, unsafe.”
“The failure of McCrory and other lawmakers to see this is a failure of compassion, a failure to recognize the difficult and frequently unwelcoming world transgender people must navigate every day, stigmatized by the fear and ignorance of others,” he added.
The U.S. Justice Department and the state of North Carolina sued each other earlier this month, with the DOJ claiming that HB2 violates federal civil rights laws. The state stands to forfeit its federal education funding if it loses its challenge to the federal government.
Last week, the Obama administration issued a directive to all of the nation’s public schools that mandates that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their chosen gender identity. Several states have vowed not to comply with the federal government’s order.
In his op-ed, John called on Gov. McCrory and other supporters of the law to “reverse course” and repeal it.
“They need to recognize the existence of trans people, and they need to acknowledge that all people have a fundamental desire — and a fundamental right — to be treated fairly,” John concluded.
John’s AIDS Foundation has long advocated for LGBT-related causes. In April of last year, the singer joined former REM frontman Michael Stipe in calling for protections for transgender inmates in the Georgia prison system.
Read Elton John’s full op-ed in The Hill here.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum