McNight is joined in supporting the bill, which would block life-saving hormone therapy for trans youth, by 23 fellow lawmakers, all Republicans. Called the "South Carolina Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act," the bill bans doctors from prescribing medication or performing procedures that "alter gender" or delay puberty for patients under 18. Doctors who do give their patients these much needed services would face felony charges.
McKnight, whose legislative district is largely rural and two-thirds Black, says that his constituents support the legislation. "Black Democrats tend to be more conservative than white progressives," McKnight told The Associated Press. "I would not have ever put this bill forward if I didn't think the people in my district wouldn't be receptive, and they are. Pastors, young parents, older parents, they all tell me the same thing: if you want to do this, wait until you're 18."
He says that there's nothing bigoted or hateful about the bill. "This bill isn't anti-trans," he said. "I just don't think, to make a sex change during the teen years, is something someone should do."
The rest of his party isn't on board. Democrats in the South Carolina House unanimously approved a resolution saying that the party "condemns this outrageous bill -- and its Democratic supporters -- in the strongest possible terms." Other party members have condemned McKnight on social media.
Nearly all bills like this come from Republicans, who have made it a large part of their platform to criminalize being trans and "protect religious liberty" from LGBTQ+ people. There are currently over 108 proposed bills in the U.S. that target LGBTQ+ individuals, and over 70 are specifically aimed at trans people.
Most anti-trans bills now are focusing on trans youth. Many of the bills, like McKnight's, ban children from getting trans-related health care. Others seek to ban trans students, or just trans female students, from participating in school sports. South Carolina recently nixed a proposed bill that would have done that in the state.