Op-ed: My child left NC because of new anti-LGBTQ laws. Mark Robinson would make things worse.

Op-ed: My child left NC because of new anti-LGBTQ laws. Mark Robinson would make things worse.

Supporters of LGBTQ Rights at a rally in Raleigh. Photo: Dylan Rhoney/Cardinal & Pine

By Shannon Fleming

November 22, 2023

As a mother, my journey through parenthood has been a tapestry woven with love, challenges, and unwavering support for my child. 

This Thanksgiving, however, marks a significant departure from the traditions we’ve shared for years as a family. Forced apart by North Carolina’s hateful anti-trans legislation, my adult transgender child, seeking safety and acceptance, made the painful decision to leave the country several months ago. 

Instead of gathering around a table, our family is  attempting to recreate our Thanksgiving traditions over a Zoom call, navigating a significant time difference. And in the evening, it’ll be just my husband and I sharing a meal, without our child.

The reality is that this year’s celebrations are overshadowed by the stark fact that the legislative climate in North Carolina and in other states has torn families apart, mine included. Yet, amidst the challenges, I am finding moments of gratitude, particularly in the outcomes of the most recent election, which indicate  a rejection of the Republican Party’s obsessive focus on anti-trans rhetoric. 

The suburbs, a key battleground, have consistently shown that voters prioritize issues such as economic concerns over divisive social policies. This trend has been observed in elections from Kentucky to Arizona, where the emphasis on transgender issues failed to sway voters.

The defeat of hateful, anti-LGBTQ groups in recent elections nationwide brings a glimmer of hope for a more inclusive and tolerant future. However, this victory also spotlights a concerning trend within the North Carolina Republican Party, particularly as we approach the upcoming gubernatorial race.

In the wake of the defeat of anti-trans candidates and extremist groups in various states, one would hope that North Carolina Republicans might reconsider their approach. Unfortunately, the front-runner for the GOP nomination to the governorship, Mark Robinson, remains openly hostile towards the LGBTQIA+ community, aligning himself with the regressive agenda of Moms for Liberty. Robinson’s stances on issues such as book bans and defunding public education echo the extremist rhetoric that has proven detrimental to inclusivity and progress.

His threat to enact an even more extreme abortion ban is deeply troubling. In a time when reproductive rights are under constant scrutiny, advocating for further restrictions is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by marginalized communities in our state.

These issues are not just political talking points; they have real-life consequences for families like mine. When a state endorses policies that alienate and discriminate against its own citizens, it sends a chilling message. My child, like many others, felt compelled to seek refuge in a more accepting environment, contributing to a brain drain that North Carolina can ill afford.

As North Carolinians, we face a pivotal moment. Mark Robinson’s ascent to the governorship threatens the very fabric of our state. It’s not enough to merely vote against such extremism; we must be active in the fight to reclaim our home from the hatred that seeks to steal it from us.

As a mother who had to watch her child leave the state they were the seventh generation to be raised in, I implore everyone, regardless of party affiliation, to recognize the urgency of this moment. Our collective action is needed to ensure that North Carolina remains a beacon of acceptance, a place where every resident, regardless of their identity, feels seen, heard, and valued. 

The defeat of extremism in other states tells us that voters are ready for a change. It’s time for us, the warm-hearted folks of North Carolina, to lead that change, leaving behind the divisive rhetoric of the past and embracing a future steeped in the welcoming embrace of Southern hospitality, where everyone can thrive.


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