Asheville breaks with NC, Hosts SoCon despite HB2
Asheville North Carolina by hosting the SoCon basketball March Madness is breaking ranks with the Atlantic conference, NCAA, NBA and NFL HB2 boycott.
The city could have acted in unison with the state but they didn’t. Most tragically the real struggle was about money and came from within our very own community. And not a word of this can be found on Equality North Carolina’s Facebook Page.
Meanwhile, Republicans have doubled down on HB2 with the trans toxic HB 186.
Probably not a story anyone would want publicized, except perhaps the Republican legislators in Raleigh. They would rejoice at the thought of another division in the recently healed LGB-T community.
So it’s just LGB, Republicans and general haters against transgender people? Not so. I was in conversation with trans advocates in Ashville and had devastating eye-opening quotes but at the last minute, they demanded I not use.
Actually, they were perfectly happy that I didn’t write a story about this at all. This from transgender advocates from the NC city that is fracturing the fight against statewide discrimination.
The city had considered putting into writing an ordinance to back up their claims of being the most progressive of North Carolina, but they didn’t.
The issue of transgender inclusion was raised at city council meetings prior to the introduction of HB2 but the Council said it wasn’t needed as there wasn’t anything to ‘fix’.
Mayor Esther Manheimer, at a March 8 City Council meeting, said Asheville was a place that celebrated diversity but didn’t need to take the same steps protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender people as Charlotte.
Part of the move by Charlotte was to “fix” an older rule explicitly prohibiting bathroom choice, Manheimer said, and Asheville didn’t need to make that adjustment.
Many in Asheville say the boycott isn’t supported in their city because they aren’t really a part of North Carolina at all.
While it is true the players and the bulk of the battle is in Raleigh and Charlotte, that doesn’t mean the fight shouldn’t also happen here, local transgender activist Allison Scott told the Citizen Times.
“How are we going to put pressure on them,” Scott said, “if we don’t put pressure on them?
“I hate for businesses to lose money. I don’t want anyone to lose money, but are we ranking money above civil rights?”
The problem, however, is that Asheville is part of North Carolina.
Economics are a powerful tool to fight injustice, said Scott, who can understand why city officials and community leaders didn’t urge the conference to leave, but struggles to understand why the Southern Conference chose to stay.
“Other conferences and business were doing it; they were showing it was possible,” she said.
Community organizer Brynn Estelle is a transgender woman who went to the meeting in April to ensure Asheville’s transgender advocacy groupTranzmission’s views were represented.
She grew up in Western North Carolina’s mountains and has been an Asheville resident for five years.
By the time it was her turn to speak, Estelle said she was so upset the only words she could mutter were those of disappointment. It was like everyone had already made up their minds, she said.
“It was basically a room full of white people patting themselves on the back for how diverse and inclusive their town is,” Estelle said. “Everybody seemed to say HB2 is bad, and trans people are not bad, but I want to go see basketball.”