Jordan Candler / Mar. 2, 2016

South Transgendered Dakota

Common sense gets flushed down the toilet.

The South Dakota legislature’s effort to impose some common sense into the transgender debate sweeping the nation was defeated after Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed the Student Physical Privacy Act. The bill would have banned transgender students from undressing and showering alongside students of the opposite biological sex. Last week the governor said that a conversation with transgender individuals “helped me see things through their eyes a little better and see more of their perspective,” adding, “I have my own set of values and in the end I’ll make my own decisions.” Well, we now have a better understanding of what his “values” are.

The decision was influenced by two concerns: legal court battles with the Obama administration, and pressure from outside groups. As reported by The New York Times, the bill “appeared to conflict with the Obama administration’s interpretation of federal civil rights law and seemed likely to be headed for a court challenge,” which Daugaard alluded to in his veto statement. And according to bill sponsor Rep. Fred Deutsch, “A number of different businesses came out and said this would reflect poorly on South Dakota if the governor signed it into law. When business starts talking like that, you think, ‘What impact might that have on the governor?’” Contrast Daugaard’s retreat to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has successfully enacted conservative policy reforms despite robust opposition. When the going gets hard, it’s steadfastness to principles, not pandering, that shows true leadership.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio claimed, “If I were a student in South Dakota right now, chances are I would not survive into adulthood.” Which is a little baffling considering the bill sought to protect him as much as anyone. According to the bill’s text, “A reasonable accommodation may include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by faculty.” Ah, but there’s the problem. The Times adds, “[O]pponents of the measure had argued that it would have created a stigma for transgender students and made them stand out in a way that would be uncomfortable.” However, the Williams Institute says that only 1.7% (likely a huge overestimate) of the South Dakota student population is transgender. Which means the other 98.3% is being forced against their will to placate those with a gender-disorientation pathology. Welcome to America 2016.

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