LGBTQ issue image

Carcaño, et al. v. Cooper, et al

Location: North Carolina
Status: Closed
Last Update: May 12, 2021

What's at Stake

Filed by the ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina along with Lambda Legal, this lawsuit challenges a sweeping North Carolina law, House Bill 2 , which bans transgender people from accessing restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity and blocks local governments from protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) people against discrimination in a wide variety of settings., and its replacement law, HB 142, which left many of the harms caused by HB 2 in place.


HB 2 was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to respond to the City of Charlotte’s enactment of an ordinance that extended existing municipal anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people earlier this year. Advocates for these protections had for years been describing to the City Council the significant degree of discrimination faced by LGBT people, particularly transgender people. Because North Carolina state law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the many LGBT residents of Charlotte—as well as LGBT residents throughout the state—are exposed to invidious discrimination in their day-to-day lives simply for being themselves. After two hours-long hearings, in which there was extensive public comment on both sides of the issue, the City Council voted to adopt the non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination in public accommodations.

Before the Charlotte Ordinance could take effect, the North Carolina General Assembly rushed to convene a special session with the express purpose of passing a statewide law that would preempt Charlotte’s “radical” move to protect its residents from discrimination. Lawmakers made no attempt to hide the purpose of their actions and instead openly and virulently made clear that HB2 was targeted retaliation for what it called Charlotte’s “radical” move to protect its citizens from discrimination—invoking a particularly abhorrent series of attacks on transgender people, who were falsely portrayed as predatory and dangerous to others.

Plaintiffs are individuals and nonprofit organizations whose members will be directly impacted by H.B. 2.


Joaquin Carcaño is a 27-year-old, Latino, transgender man who works at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC-CH”) at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease. The project that he coordinates provides medical education and services such as HIV testing to the Latino/a population.

Payton Grey McGarry is a 20-year-old, white, transgender man and full-time student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he is double majoring in Business Administration and Accounting. A native North Carolinian, he is also a skilled musician and has played trumpet in many ensembles at UNC-Greensboro.

Angela Gilmore is an African-American lesbian and resident of Durham, North Carolina. She currently serves as the associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at North Carolina Central University. She and her wife have been together for nearly twenty-years and moved to North Carolina in 2011 hoping that it was a place where they could be fully themselves and comfortable in terms of both their race and sexual orientation.

Hunter Schafer is a 17-year-old young woman and high school junior at University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School in Winston-Salem. Hunter was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the ninth grade. By her sophomore year she was using the girls’ restroom and feminine pronouns, and that year was elected to the Queens Court. This year, because of her talent as a visual artist, Hunter started at UNCSA-HS, where she stays in the girls’ dorms. Because of the passage of HB 2, Hunter could be forced to use the boys’ restroom, which would cause her serious anxiety and expose her to threats of harassment and violence.

Madeline “Maddy” Goss, 41, is a woman who lives in Raleigh. She is transgender and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2006. Like other women, she uses women’s restrooms in all aspects of her life and all her identity documents reflect her female gender. A native-born North Carolinian, Goss is parent to an 11-year-old daughter and she enjoys teaching Tae Kwon Do. As an LGBT advocate, Goss frequently visits the General Assembly in Raleigh to lobby the legislature with ACLU of North Carolina and Equality North Carolina. Even though her license says female, Goss worries about her safety when using the restrooms at the General Assembly. The passage of HB 2 felt like an invitation to discriminate against people like Goss, and HB 142 has perpetuated that harm because the law has created significant uncertainty about her right to use women’s restrooms.

Quinton Harper, 32, is a bisexual cisgender black man who works as a community organizer and lives in Carrboro, North Carolina. A longtime advocate for people living with HIV, Harper is a national leader in the fight against the epidemic. He is politically active and he has served on administrative boards for the city of Carrboro and Orange County, two governments that have considered passing nondiscrimination policies. Because of HB 142, Harper and the many LGBT people he works with in his community are without the protections that a nondiscrimination policy could provide.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (“ACLU of NC”) is a private, non-profit membership organization with its principal office in Raleigh, North Carolina. It has approximately 8,500 members in the State of North Carolina, including LGBT members. The mission of the ACLU of NC is to defend and advance the individual freedoms embodied in the United States Constitution, including the rights of LGBT people, to be free from invidious discrimination and infringements on their liberty interests. The ACLU of NC sues on behalf of its members, some of whom are transgender individuals who are barred by H.B. 2 from using restrooms and other facilities in accordance with their gender identity in schools and government buildings, and some of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals who have been stripped of or barred from local non-discrimination protections based on their sexual orientation and sex, including gender identity.

Support our on-going litigation and work in the courts Donate now

Learn More About the Issues in This Case