It’s nice to be proud of where you’re from. I grew up in South Carolina, and I was always jealous of North Carolina. This started
when I was in first grade and someone from North Carolina moved into our neighborhood. He bragged about how the North defeated the South in the Civil War, and I felt terrible that my state had fought a war because we wanted slaves. I told my momma that I wished that lived North Carolina because they were good people. She set me straight on who fought in the Civil War, but I still had an inferiority complex about being from South Carolina.
But in the past week, the roles are reversed. I’m proud that I’m not from the Tarheel state. There, the legislature called a special session, gave members five minutes to read the text of an anti-LGBT bill, allowed no one to speak against the bill and then passed it, and sent it to the governor, who signed the bill – all within twenty-fours.
In South Carolina, we still have one Senator introducing anti-LGBT legislation, but in my home state, the bill faces significant opposition.
Ted Cruz’s South co-chair Senator Lee Bright proposed a bill last week specifically targeted at the transgender community. It’s not surprising because Sen. Bright has called the LGBT community an abomination, while speaking on the floor of the Senate. He also warned that “the devil is taking control of this land, and we’re not stopping him” because gay marriage is allowed. So it’s natural for him to turn his attention next to the new bogeyman: the transgender community.
He purports his bill will protect woman and children from sexual predators, but the bill doesn’t prohibit “men” from entering “women’s” restrooms. In fact, the bill recognizes many instances where a person would need to be in the bathroom of the opposite sex. These include the following circumstances: (a) for custodial purposes; (b) for maintenance or inspection purposes; (c) to render medical assistance; (d) to accompany a person in need of medical assistance; (e) for a minor under the age of seventeen who accompanies a person caring for that minor; (f) that has been temporarily designated for use by that person’s biological sex.
The only impact of Senator Lee Bright’s bill would be to prohibit the transgender community from using bathrooms based on gender identification. A transgender man, who might have a beard and dress and look like any other guy, would be required to use the women’s room.
The State Senate held hearings on the bill Wednesday and Thursday of this week. At the hearing, Sen. Bright said he does not think transgender people are pedophiles. Instead, he said he is concerned grown men would pretend to be transgender and would violate young women in the restroom. Other extreme viewpoints were raised. One guy testified, “If we don’t do something one of these days, someone is going to get hurt. Possibly someone could could get killed. Anyone who’s decent doesn’t want someone walking in on their spouse, daughter, granddaughter. . .God only created two sexes. Male. Female.” [NOTE: Real-life biology is a lot more complicated than this guy’s reading of the Bible. Many people are born intersex, and there are a dozen or so other possible combinations of sex chromosomes besides XX/XY.] Former Columbia City Councilman Cameron Runyan said Bright’s proposal is needed to counteract local ordinances that force people to accept the LGBT culture.
But the bulk of the testimony contradicted Bright’s assertions.
U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles testified he could not find a record of any incident in South Carolina in which a transgender person has assaulted another person in a restroom. Richland County Sherriff Leon Lott stated, “In the 41 years I have been in law enforcement in South Carolina,” Lott writes, “I have never heard of a transgender person attacking or otherwise bothering someone in a restroom. This is a non-issue.”
And one of the transgender students came up with the best argument against these bathroom bills. He said, “If we really wanted to protect children from assault, we wouldn’t allow men who sexually abused boys to use the men’s room anymore.”
Members of the transgender community who spoke about their own experiences.
FTM student Grayson said, “None of the people supporting this bill know the pain of constantly having to prove yourself to a world you do not feel safe in.” He has to walk to the other side of the school just to use the restroom. This means he has to leave class early or is often late for class. It also raises questions from other students and has the potential to out him.
A FTM transgender student spoke about a friend of his who was outed because he had to use a special restroom. As a result, the transgender man was beaten up by someone he didn’t even know.
Senator Sen. Joel Lourie (D) promised the transgender students, “With every amount of strength in my body I will fight to make sure your rights are protected.”
Even if the bill were to make its way out of the Senate, it has no chance of becoming law because South Carolina Governor Niki Haley (R) has already announced opposition to the bill. “What I will tell you is. . . we are blessed because we don’t have to mandate respect or kindness or responsibility. I have always thought the citizens of South Carolina are very respectful and very accepting and very kind to everyone. And we’ve never had to deal with those issues in South Carolina.”
Unlike its neighboring states of Georgia and North Carolina, it looks like my home state legislature won’t be passing anti-LGBT legislation this session. And for that, I have just a little bit of hometown pride.