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Transgender bathroom use debates play out across U.S.

LGBT advocates are battling conservatives over the use of bathrooms by transgender people in state legislatures across the country
Transgender bathroom use debates play out across U.S. 01:57

NORTH CAROLINA-- This week, North Carolina introduced and passed a law striking down all anti-discrimination measures for LGBT people, and banning towns any anti-discrimination measures in the future. It also restricts bathroom use for transgender people.

North Carolina is the latest to approve a law to require transgender people to use restrooms that correspond with their biological gender, instead of letting them choose. But the fight is likely just beginning.

"This is the new fight for LGBT rights. We are really in an extraordinary moment where states are rolling back existing protections and actively trying to discriminate," said Suzanne Goldberg a law professor at Columbia University in New York City. "It seems there is a wave of anti-LGBT laws spreading across the country."

Suzanne Goldberg a law professor at Columbia University in New York City. CBS News

Why are we seeing a wave now?

"This is also certainly a reaction to the Supreme Court decision last June to allow marriage equality for same-sex couples," Goldberg said.

Lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills limiting transgender bathroom use this year.

The Williams Institute said that could impact nearly 300,000 transgender people age 13 and older.

"Anti-transgender bills are the new thing in LGBT rights because the country is just getting to know transgender people," said James Esseks the director of ACLU's LGBT project.

James Esseks. CBS News

Esseks points out why major companies are denouncing the legislation, or threatening to pull business.

"It reflects the reality that the overwhelming majority of Americans coast to coast support the idea of LGBT non-discrimination protections and are against specifically singling out transgender Americans for discrimination," he said.

While none of the major corporations have enacted specific bans yet, this weekend, famed Hollywood director Rob Reiner said he will not produce movies in the state until it repeals the new law.

And the mayor of San Francisco is banning city employees from traveling to North Carolina for business.

Peter Sprigg with the conservative group Family Research Council disagrees and said the bill is about common sense.

"It's not bigotry and it's perfectly reasonable for women to feel uncomfortable when sharing these private facilities with someone who they know is biologically male," he said.

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