A judge has ruled that three transgender people — two students and one employee — at the University of North Carolina must be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identities.
In his preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder blocked the university from enforcing the so-called H.B. 2 law passed in March, which requires people to use the bathrooms matching the identities cited on their birth certificates. The law also prohibits local governments from passing anti-discrimination laws stronger than any state law.
The ruling comes as part of a larger trial challenging the state's law. The injunction affects three plaintiffs, including an employee at the Chapel Hill campus, a student at UNC's Greensboro campus, and a high school student at the state School of Arts, which is run by the university system.
Schroeder said the three "are likely to succeed" in their lawsuit arguing that H.B. 2 violates Title IX, the federal law barring gender-based discrimination in educational institutions. But the judge said he isn't convinced that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed arguing that H.B. 2 represents a violation of their equal protection rights.
In a statement, the lead plaintiff Joaquin Carcano expressed relief at the judge's injunction.
"Today is a great day for me and hopefully this is the start to chipping away at the injustice of H.B. 2 that is harming thousands of other transgender people who call North Carolina home. Today, the tightness that I have felt in my chest every day since H.B. 2 passed has eased. But the fight is not over: we won't rest until this discriminatory law is defeated."
Carcano and the other plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU, Lambda Legal and other civil rights groups.
Supporters of the H.B. 2 law, state Senate leader Phil Berger and House leader Tim Moore, found a silver lining in the judge's ruling, reports the News and Observer.
"While the court granted a limited injunction for three individuals," Berger and Moore said in a joint statement, "we are pleased it preserved the commonsense protections to keep grown men out of bathrooms and showers with women and young girls for our public schools and for nearly 10 million North Carolinians statewide."
The trial on the constitutionality of North Carolina's transgender bathroom law begins in November.