WEENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA — When Officer Henry Michaels first joined the local police department in small town in North Carolina, he says the he did so because he always wanted to “keep as many people safe as possible.” For 12 years, he says he did just that. He chased criminals who had assaulted people or stolen someone else’s property. After HB2 was passed and signed into law in his state, however, Michaels said he realized the scope of his job got much, much wider.
“I’m just here to enforce our new penile penal code,” Officer Michaels told us over coffee on his mid-shift break. He had already been on the beat four hours that day, and he told our reporter he had at least another six hours to go. In the first part of his shift, he was assigned the park beat in his town. Patrolling each of the city’s six public parks, Officer Michaels relayed that he had made “sixteen routine genital checks” in the parks’ bathrooms and found no one in violation of the state’s law that forces citizens to use the bathroom designed for their birth gender.
While Officer Michaels says his job is to enforce every law on the books, even he has some concerns about resource allocation, now that his job duties also entail “bathroom-genital agreement.”
“I mean, I have to assume that someone, somewhere in my town is being mugged, raped, murdered or otherwise victimized,” Michaels told us, “but I guess I’m also glad that I’m here to ensure that every peener goes where peeners are supposed to go. It’s not really anything I ever thought about when I went into public bathrooms before, because I’ve just always been so focused on going in, taking a pee or poo, and then leaving. But hey, the people pay my salary, don’t they? So I get to jam my hands down people’s pants now. Yay.”
Even though he hasn’t personally caught anyone violating HB2, one of his friends is a cop three towns east and Officer Michaels says his friend has. He relayed the details he could remember to us.
“He went into the ladies’ bathroom and found only what looked like women to him,” Michaels said, “but he just felt like something was fishy. He needed probable cause though, so he used an old cop’s trick and said out loud he could smell a penis in there.” Michaels said once he established probable cause by intimating he could detect a phallus with his nose, his friend was in the clear to inspect the genitals of those in the bathroom in question, even one who was “pinching mean grinder” at the time.
When his friend found the penis in one transwoman’s pantsuit, he immediately called for back up, threw the woman on the ground, and cuffed her. But when his friend got the woman to the town’s jailhouse, he had to let her go because HB2 doesn’t actually have any penalties, and the enforcement was left completely up to individual law enforcement agencies and officers.
“Who the hell writes a law that you can’t enforce just so you can make someone feel bad about who they are,” Officer Michaels asked, “it makes no sense and I have a feeling it’s just going to create more tension between citizens and police. But oh well, my break’s over. I have to go down the Lancet Park and check crotches now. It’s all part of the job, now, I guess.”
A few days after the interview, Officer Michaels told us he witnessed a bank robbery that he had to ignore because he was on his way to the park to inspect genitalia.