UPDATE: On Wednesday, Dec. 21, after striking a deal with leaders in the more liberal city of Charlotte, North Carolina lawmakers held a special session in an attempt to ax the "bathroom bill." They were unsuccessful.
"Today the legislature had the chance to do the right thing for North Carolina and they failed," Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said at a late night press conference, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. Cooper will succeed Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who Mother Jones described as the "public face of HB2." McCrory's loss in the 2016 election is thought to be tied to the backlash and boycotts that followed the bill, and represents a demand for change from the people of North Carolina.
After the session failed, however, it looks like LGBTQ North Carolinians are in for a long winter. Democratic leaders in the state worry that there will not be another opportunity to repeal the bill in the short term — making the voices of the trans men and women speaking out against the bill and its injustices all that much more important.
A transgender teen in Michigan is using her growing online popularity to raise awareness for the LGBTQ community.
Last year, 14-year-old Corey Maison received her first estrogen prescription from her mom in a video that went viral online. Maison endured years of bullying at school before fully embracing her gender identity as a teen.
To commemorate Maison's transition, her mom arranged a photo session with New Jersey-based photographer Meg Bitton in December.
A few weeks ago, North Carolina passed their controversial "bathroom bill" aimed at keeping transgender individuals from using the bathrooms intended for the gender they identify as. Maison says the bill is an attack on basic human rights.
"I feel transgender rights are not about gender identity, but about equal rights for ALL human beings," Maison wrote to A Plus. "We aren't aliens, we are PEOPLE and deserve the same rights as everyone else. I shouldn't have to use a family or special 'staff' bathroom to exclude me or single me out more than I already am and put an even bigger target on my back. I should be allowed to use the bathroom I feel most comfortable in, just like everyone else is allowed to do."
Her mother and Bitton decided to share the photograph on Facebook to show that North Carolina's law is putting transgender kids like Maison in danger.
"If this was YOUR daughter, would you be comfortable sending her into a men's bathroom? Neither would I," Bitton wrote on Facebook. "Be fair. Be kind. Be empathetic. Treat others how you would like to be treated."
Bitton's message seems to echo a common sentiment from supporters of the bathroom bill, who say they feel uncomfortable sending their cisgender daughters into bathrooms with transgender women. Powerfully, she turns the argument on its head to promote tolerance and advocate for the personal safety of girls like Maison — girls the bill's supporters appear to have forgotten.
The Facebook photo received over 21,000 shares in a single day. Many people thanked Maison and Bitton for bravely putting a face to this issue.
"The public reaction has been both positive and negative, thankfully MORE positive than negative," Maison wrote to A Plus. "People are just using fear mongering and religion to disguise their bigotry and hate. All of the messages I have received have been 100 percent positive and of support. People are telling me how brave I am for sharing my story and thanking me for having the courage to share it."