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N.C. Governor Calls Obama Transgender Guidelines A 'Massive Overreach'

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And we're joined now by Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina, a Republican. He signed a law that limits civil rights protections for LGBT people. Among other things, it requires state buildings to limit their restrooms to people based on their biological sex. Governor, welcome to the program.

PAT MCCRORY: Let me just correct you. We didn't limit any of the existing rights. And we also, regarding bathroom policy, it was only related to our schools, our government buildings and our universities. So it wasn't in any way - the private sector can do as they like regarding their bathroom policies anywhere in the private sector.

SIEGEL: Well, we just heard Gavin Grimm, who's a transgender high school high school junior, welcome the administration's letter. Let me ask you - I mean, why should a North Carolina child in Gavin's situation, as a junior in high school - why should he be required to use a girls' room, where he would look and feel very out of place?

MCCRORY: He's actually not required to do that. He was offered and many other people in our existing school systems across the United States are offered alternative choices for this very complex situation in which there's not a clear definition for gender identity or gender expression. There are no guidelines to follow in this area, up until today when the Obama administration ordered all schools throughout the United States to - you can offer an alternative, but the student doesn't have to take it. And when you have a different anatomy than the other students using - by the way, not just the toilet, but also a changing room and shower facilities, which are a lot different than what the Virginia case - Virginia case is just talking about restrooms

SIEGEL: There was no changing, no room locker room.

MCCRORY: Right. The Obama administration applies the locker rooms and the shower facilities and...

SIEGEL: You've called that...

MCCRORY: ...that's where the anatomy is - causes some serious issues that we as a nation need to deal with. But I don't think the president has the authority by himself to make that decision based upon...

SIEGEL: If it's a matter of civil rights - if it's a matter of civil rights - and you've called this a constitutional overreach - why shouldn't that be an appropriate area for federal intervention?

MCCRORY: Because it's not just a matter of civil rights. It's also a matter of privacy, and those two issues are coming into conflict with each other. The expectation of privacy that men and women and boys and girls have in a highway restaurant, a gym, a locker room after gym or a shower, showering facility - there's an expectation of privacy for people when they go into a shower or a toilet - public toilet facility. We're not talking about single facilities. There's an expectation that the only other people will be the same gender as they are, and that's the way we've been doing things for a long time, but there are these unique situations that we need to be sensitive to. But to have a just across-the-board edict from the president is quite a big change in our societal - society norms.

SIEGEL: But actually, you know, the Department of Education released excerpts from guidelines for dealing with transgender students from school districts all over the country. Some were from Alaska, from New York, Colorado, Kentucky, Washington state. So the issue seems to have occurred in a great many school districts. The situation of a transgender students doesn't seem to vary that much by geography. I mean, why shouldn't there be guidelines for national policy (inaudible)?

MCCRORY: Well, again, I don't mind the guidelines for national policy. What I care about is that's not the president's job to - the president's job is to enforce the rules, not to make the rules or to interpret the rules. The courts should interpret the rules, as Gavin is going through right now. And the legislature, the U.S. Congress are the ones that make the laws, not the president of the United States. I'm Governor of North Carolina. I don't make the laws. I enforce the laws.

SIEGEL: But this letter was advisory. This letter was advisory to school districts. This was not...

MCCRORY: Well, it was an advisory with a threat of taking money away. And that's the - that's the - that's the big issue that we as a nation now are going to have to deal with. By the way, most people were not dealing - most people had never heard of this issue five months ago, until the left - political left started saying we need bathroom rules and policy not just for government facilities and schools, but also for the private sector, so it was the left that brought up this issue.

SIEGEL: One other point - your law in North Carolina, HB2, in addition to addressing bathrooms, denies many North Carolinians - not just LGBT people - the right to sue for discrimination. Why does it do that? Why did you sign that?

MCCRORY: And I strongly disagree with that. I didn't have a line-item veto, and I'm going to get that reversed. And...

SIEGEL: Well, but that's a pretty big denial of right. I mean, you could have withheld your signature over that, couldn't you?

MCCRORY: No, I couldn't because the Charlotte law forcing bathroom policies in all private sector, which was voted on by - in Charlotte, N.C., a city where I was mayor for 14 years, was going into effect on April 1. And I don't have a line-item veto, and I said I would sign it and then get that changed. And I think we will get that changed.

SIEGEL: Gov. McCrory, thanks for talking with us.

MCCRORY: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

SIEGEL: That's Pat McCrory, who is the governor of North Carolina. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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