The toll of North Carolina's HB2 on transgender athletes

— -- Transgender roller derby skater Erin McCargar never changed the gender designation on her birth certificate after transitioning, although she did on all other forms of identification.

So whatever bathroom she chooses, she can't be certain it would be seen as the "right" one by the state of North Carolina, which is suing the U.S. Department of Justice to defend the HB2 bill. The law supersedes a Charlotte ordinance that protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity, and negates local ordinances across the state that would have expanded protections for the LGBT community.

The suit comes after months of protest against the law, but North Carolina has essentially doubled down on the idea that the choice of bathroom is potentially a criminal act.

Transgender men and women already feel under scrutiny, and might fear violence if their gender identity is revealed in front of a group hostile to their very existence.

"What I do know is that this effectively bans trans people from public spaces," McCargar said on her blog. "We risk going to jail if we use the bathroom that is appropriate to our gender presentation. We risk assault and jail if we use the bathroom that the bill requires of us."

One of those public spaces is Asheville, North Carolina's US Cellular Center, where McCargar has skated in the past as a member of the Nashville Rollergirls. If she were to go back, she wouldn't be able to get dressed with a team that accepts her for exactly who she is, because of a state law that doesn't.

The Women's Flat Track Derby Association is one national sport that welcomes transgender skaters. At its national tournament in St. Paul, Minnesota, the league had an all-gender bathroom.

North Carolina's law effectively says there is no gender identity, only gender.

"From a sports perspective, locker rooms are a big deal," Rose City skater Josie Simonis said in an email. "I play a team sport. I need to share a locker room with my teammates. No questions. However, if we went to N.C. right now, I couldn't, because my (Illinois) birth certificate says M. ...

"Sports make this even harder in many respects, but also can make it easier or at least help, because I'm often able to be with a group of people (my teammates) who know where I belong and will defend me as necessary."

Our culture does a bad job of separating our parts from our sexuality, whether it's regarding the perfunctory ladies room or breastfeeding an infant. Somehow, these tasks become sexualized and then someone invents a rule to address a problem that simply doesn't exist.

There have already been videos of self-appointed bathroom police -- and actual police -- accosting people in the bathroom about their "real" gender. In both of those clips, women who were assigned female at birth get the inquisition, not trans women. So we all have that to look forward to, ladies!

Many people can't see that the action taken to quiet imaginary specters has a very real impact on the trans community; criminalizing normal behavior, adding stress and uncertainty to a group that already faces high rates of bullying and self-harm. It's simply unjust to have this group answer for the boogeyman of a majority culture.

The NBA, NCAA and NFL have opposed the law, whether by issuing statements about choosing inclusive venues for fans or by working behind the scenes to show states how contrary such a law is to a community's business interests.

"Sports and entertainment have a great bully pulpit from which to guide the conversation," Texacutioners skater Penelope Nederlander said in an email. " Walking Dead threatening to leave Georgia. Huge. Even if it's not the biggest income stream for a state, it's visual. It's out there. But Hollywood we expect to be progressive. I don't think that big sports would have done anything for LGBT rights 10 years ago. Or even five years ago."

The safe choice might be to avoid North Carolina, but Nederlander said she isn't going to do that.

"I will be vocally opposed if I feel it's appropriate," Nederlander said. "And I will continue to live out as a trans athlete. North Carolina will get worse, not better, if we just punish them with the company of themselves. I would rather challenge them with seeing me as a person."

Other things on my mind this week:

Penn State president Eric Barron can't be serious when he says he's "appalled" by the media coverage of the recent allegations that Joe Paterno knew about the abuse of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky as far back as the 1970s.

The "rumor" Barron denounces comes from victims' depositions in an ongoing insurance coverage case for Sandusky-related claims -- and it's potential evidence that Paterno might have known, or should have known, more than he let on.

Barron's shock is also undermined by news of Penn State's legal settlements with Sandusky accusers covering alleged abuse dating to 1971.

This is exactly what the media should be reporting on. Just because Barron doesn't like having this dredged up again doesn't mean he gets to wag his finger at the media. The media is hardly the culprit here.

Barron is treating this like third-and-goal and Penn State just needs to keep 'em out to win the game. Except that acting like that disrespects the known cases of abuse that took place on Paterno's watch.

Paterno's legacy isn't the most important stake; the health and future of Sandusky's victims is. To pretend like there is some big misunderstanding here is ethically irresponsible for the president of the college that failed to protect those boys. Don't value the institution above the victims yet again.

Amelie Mauresmo and Andy Murray have parted ways. In their two years, Mauresmo's coaching helped Murray's game, although she couldn't fix Murray's biggest flaw: any matchup with Novak Djokovic.

Here's what I'll take from their tenure: a mutual respect and an education for both tours. Murray became sensitized to the sexism female athletes face every day and became vocal about it. In that way at least, Mauresmo did give him the tools to best Djokovic, who offered some echo of former Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore's sexist thinking. Djokovic walked his initial statement back after a while, but Murray rebuked Moore's comments immediately.

Partnerships between coaches and players end for a lot of reasons. Mauresmo was committed on other levels with the French Fed Cup as captain, and with her baby born in August. Murray wanted someone who could travel more.

Now, if Murray really wants to incorporate a style that could beat Djokovic, he might want to call Martina Navratilova.