Asheville group to canvas businesses, ask if bathrooms are transgender safe

    The exterior of Forever Tattoo on Wednesday. Protesters have targeted the business on Lexington Avenue over comments the owner made about bathroom policies.The owner says he doesn't discriminate against anyone. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The transgender community is urging Asheville businesses to ensure the safety of people using their bathrooms after discussion over House Bill 2 has heated up.

    Dozens of people plan to get downtown businesses involved Thursday.

    A group from Asheville's Tranzmission will be canvassing businesses, beginning downtown and continuing through West and South Asheville, and asking whether their bathrooms would be safe for transgender people to use.

    This week, a list of nearly 350 North Carolina businesses came out in support of HB2. Only a few dozen of them were willing to share their names publicly.

    Click here to read House Bill 2 in full.

    "Now is the time for people to come forward as allies," Brynn Estelle, co-director Tranzmission, said. "We want to compile a list of local places that say we are committed to your community, we have your backs, we appreciate your patronization."

    They'll share that list so anyone can see which shops and restaurants support all gender bathrooms.

    "I think the entire discussion of House Bill 2 is going to cause people to take a stance in some form, maybe not positively or negatively, but they'll have to make decisions on where they stand on the issue until it's repealed. It's as simple as that," Zach Anders, of Transformers, said.

    Protesters have already targeted Forever Tattoo on Lexington Avenue over comments the owner made about bathroom policies. But, the owner says he doesn't discriminate against anyone and that he wasn't given a chance to explain his position.

    Canvassers say their intention is not to single any business owner out, and their top priority is creating safe environments.

    "We really need this sense of solidarity in our community right now because minority stress is a very real thing," Estelle said.

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