Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Opponents of SC anti-transgender bill outnumbered, outflanked supporters

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin testified against Bright's bill.

The State newspaper is describing today's subcommittee hearing on that awful anti-transgender bill proposed by SC Sen. Lee Bright as one in which opponents of the bill outnumbered those who favored it.

In truth, it was downright embarrassing for supporters of the bill. Aside from a letter from Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, testimony from former State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, the mayors from Greenwood, Florence, and Columbia, and US attorney Bill Nettles all opposing the bill, the crowd, which overflowed out of the room, heard from two transgender teens who would be affected should the bill become law:

Grayson, 13, and Dex, 13, sat before Bright and his fellow committee members during Wednesday's hearing.
Grayson, a female-to-male transitioning teen, recounted his story of having to go to the nurse's bathroom to avoid having to answer questions about his identity.

"All I want is to be able to use the men's restroom with the rest of my non-transgender peers, but this doesn't happen and it won't happen if this bill is passed," Grayson said. "The people introducing this bill are victimizing the innocent. When I enter a men's bathroom, I just want to use the facilities, wash my hands and leave. I do not deserve to have my gender identity washed away like a fingerprint on a windowpane. I do not deserve to have the person I am replaced by someone I don't want to be. I do not deserve to be forced to use a restroom where I do not feel safe."

Grayson also called out supporters of the bill, saying none of them understood what it was like to prove themselves and who they are constantly.

"We were brought into this world to live, not to be targeted by people who don't know what it's like to be born in a shell that doesn't match your interior spirit," Grayson said.
Supporting the bill were fewer witnesses, including former Richland County Councilman Cameron Runyan. And while the subcommittee hearing was going on, USC students held a rally outside the State House against the bill.

Unfortunately, according to WIS-TV, the testimony against the bill did not move Bright.

 "I am sympathetic," Bright said. "There are situations addressed in the bill that if someone wants to change their sex, they can change it if they want to do that, but I think if a woman and a female child want to use the restroom, then they shouldn't have to deal with the fact that a man has a right to walk in there because he identifies as that gender that day."  

A local blog, FitsNews, gave a theory as to why Bright is pushing the bill. And this theory has nothing to do with public safety. The site claims that Bright is in a tough re-election and it attempting to shore up the conservative base:

Bright’s proposed “Bathroom Bill” isn’t about his moral convictions regarding transgenders. Nor is it about any issue or ideology.  It’s about a vulnerable State Senator looking to collect data and raise money for his upcoming reelection fight – while shoring up his socially conservative (far) right flank.
There is more testimony to be heard tomorrow. But according to The State, the bill has little chance of becoming law. An opponent, Sen. Joel Lourie has vowed to do whet he can to kill the bill via procedure. In addition, Gov. Nikki Haley has also said she doesn't support the bill.

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