Trans person filmed in WCU bathroom

Trans person filmed in WCU bathroom

In its final week of classes, Western Carolina University became the subject of a video that went viral on social media in which a trans woman was filmed inside a women’s bathroom on campus. 

In a video posted by Payton McNabb, a student at WCU, on X at 5:04 p.m. on May 2, an unidentified trans woman appears to be trying to leave the women’s restroom. As the trans woman is drying her hands, a voice behind the camera asks, “What are you doing?” To which the woman responds “Going to the bathroom.”

When the voice behind the camera asks why the subject of the video is in the girl’s bathroom, the person replies, “I’m a trans girl.”

The voice behind the camera goes on to say, “But you’re not a girl,” and later, “I pay a lot of money to be safe in this bathroom.” 

The video, posted with the caption “A man using the girls bathroom at Western Carolina University. Unreal” had 295,000 views on McNabb’s X account as of May 14, and 15 million views on the Libs of TikTok X account.

North Carolina was at the center of the debate over the rights of transgender people to use public restrooms in 2016 with the passage of HB2, the bill that, among other things, required transgender people to use the bathroom associated with the sex on their birth certificate. However, that law was challenged in court and later repealed, permitting transgender people to use the bathroom that most closely aligns with their gender identity.

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North Carolina law does prohibit filming people in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like bathrooms, showers and dressing rooms. The law does not make it clear whether that expectation holds in the common area of a bathroom rather than a stall.

In response to the video, Western Carolina University told The Smoky Mountain News, “Western Carolina University is dedicated to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all students. The university’s primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of all members of its campus community.” 

“Unlawful discrimination against any member of our campus community is not accepted at WCU. WCU is committed to upholding its principles and ensuring that all students have equal access to education and opportunities. Violations of any university policies or state and federal laws will be addressed by appropriate campus officials,” the university said in a statement. “We are looking into the issue and have no further comment at this time.”

McNabb later posted a statement on X saying, “Currently, I’m facing reports to the school for alleged ‘transphobia,’ alongside attempts to tear down my sorority, despite it having nothing to do with it. I believe in everyone’s right to their own opinion, and I shouldn’t face punishment simply because I felt uncomfortable with a man being in our bathroom.” 

McNabb is not new to public issues surrounding trans rights. Last year McNabb publicly supported bills aiming to regulate trans athlete participation  in North Carolina public school sports after she claimed to suffer a concussion from a ball spiked by an allegedly trans athlete on the Highlands volleyball team. McNabb now works as a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum, an American conservative nonprofit organization focused on policy issues. 

“We are gravely disappointed to hear about events that unfolded on May 3 on the campus of WCU,” Sylva Pride said in a statement about the incident caught on video. “Universities are places where all students should feel safe to grow as individuals and be challenged by diverse perspectives.” 

Sylva Pride cited the WCU Code of Student Conduct, section 2.02 (g) which states that “WCU Students have the responsibility to interact with others in a manner that does not discriminate against them on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, political affiliation, or veteran status.”

“These actions are a clear violation of the Code of Student Conduct as well as the Community Creed and should be met with swift justice,” Sylva Pride wrote. “Sylva Pride calls upon the administrators of WCU to investigate this event and set a precedent of inclusion for current and future Catamounts.”

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