Gus Kenworthy
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S.C. Governor Comes Out Against Proposed Anti-Trans 'Bathroom Bill'

south carolina

After North Carolina passed a bill last month that prevents trans people from using restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity, a far-right South Carolina state senator introduced a similar bill in his state on Wednesday.

Republican Sen. Lee Bright introduced Senate Bill 1203 using an argument that has been soundlyrepeatedly debunked — that transgender people somehow pose a threat to women and children. He also asserted that trans people’s gender is a figment of their imagination.

As Charleston’s The Post and Courier reports, Bright argued that SB 1203 is necessary to protect the state’s residents from using the restroom with trans people, calling it “common sense.”

“There’s a segment of the population that believes that you ought to be able to use whatever restroom you identify yourself as being,” he said. “So they think it’s OK for a man to use a woman’s bathroom if he thinks he’s a woman. From a safety issue, we don’t need men going in women’s bathrooms.”

But according to The Washington Post, Nikki Haley, the state’s Republican governor, doesn’t see the need for SB 2013.

“I don’t believe it’s necessary,” Haley said. “When I look at South Carolina, we look at our situations, we’re not hearing of anybody’s religious liberties that are being violated, and we’re again not hearing any citizens that feel like they’re being violated in terms of freedoms.”

Haley told reporters that she hasn’t heard complaints about trans people in South Carolina posing a danger to others in public bathrooms.

Of the more than 200 localities across the country that allow trans people to use the bathroom that most closely aligns with their gender identity, there have been no verified instances of someone "pretending" to be transgender to gain access to sex-segregated spaces for nefarious purposes. By contrast, however, transgender people face a much higher risk of being the victims of physical and verbal assault in sex-segregated spaces, compared to their cisgender (nontrans) peers.

Nonetheless, the “bathroom predator” myth continues to be successful in passing legislation targeting the transgender community.

Some activists and other politicians warned that South Carolina should be mindful of the backlash that North Carolina’s law has generated. “Besides the whole human rights issue, it’s bad for business,” Warren Redman-Gress, executive director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a South Carolina civil rights group, told The Post and Courier. He noted PayPal’s cancellation of plans for an operations center in Charlotte, which would have provided 400 jobs. Bright's bill conflicts with ordinances in the cities of Charleston, North Charleston, and Folly Beach as well as Charleston County, he said.

“I can see no logical reason why we would entertain such a ridiculous measure,” added state Sen. Joel Lourie, a Democrat who has often clashed with Bright. “We don’t need to join in this national conversation that can result in serious economic problems for this state.”

After the Charlotte City Council voted to extend existing nondiscrimination protections to its trans residents in February, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory claimed the decision was dangerous. “This shift in policy could… create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy,” McCrory said in an email to ThinkProgress.

A month later, McCrory repealed that ordinance through the passage of House Bill 2, which overrides local nondiscrimination laws across the state. Although HB 2 has been extremely controversial, with over 120 companies calling to boycott North Carolina, nine other states are considering anti-trans bathroom bills similar to that legislation.

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