SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The stink from North Carolina's toilet totalitarianism has wafted overseas and put Puerto Rico's transgender community on guard to defend bathroom equality.
Responding to pressure from Bible-thumpers who are allegedly pushing for similar bathroom controls on the Isle of Enchantment, members of Puerto Rico's transgender community are telling politicians to keep their noses out of public bathroom stalls.
"As human beings, everyone has the same right to use public spaces," said Puerto Rican trans activist Kayra Lee Naranjo. "We are not going to let them roll-back the advances we've made."
"We are the same as everyone else," added Tamara Layza, Miss Carib 2016. "We are citizens, we pay taxes, and we are here to fight for equality of rights."
Naranjo and Layza joined more than 100 other LGBT activists who marched on Old San Juan Saturday afternoon to demand the right to full equality, including in the bathroom.
Although Puerto Rico's legislature is not currently contemplating any bathroom bill similar to North Carolina's controversial HB2 law, trans activists warn that there are certain religious and political "opportunists" who are trying to lobby for a similar measure on the island.
But that's not going to happen, activists say.
"A transgender woman is the same as a cisgender woman, and a transgender man is the same as a cisgender man. Gender is a construct, you can't discriminate against someone for it," says transgender activist Kery John Santiago. "Genitals are what you have between your legs, sexual orientation is what you have in your heart, and gender is something that's constructed in your head."
Kery John said Puerto Rico's LGBT community is united and organized, and is determined to stop all legislative rollbacks—including any attempt to introduce some sort of North Carolina-inspired bathroom bill.
"We are going to let that happen. We are warriors and we are going to continue this fight until the end. They have killed, jailed and oppressed us, but we will continue to fight until we die."