COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - There are three bills working through the statehouse now that members of the transgender community say target them or leave them out. They say the simple message behind these bills puts lives in danger.
The first bill is a bipartisan bill that bans anyone younger than 18 from getting any medical procedure including hormones or surgery related to changing the gender they were assigned at birth.
The other bill would ban trans women from playing sports in middle school and high school. And the third bill is the hate crime legislation that now leaves out members of the LGBTQ community.
A South Carolina mother said this type of language and beliefs behind these bills cost her son’s life; Grayson Keck committed suicide when he was 15-years-old.
“You get up every day and you have to make a choice,” Danielle Driscoll said. “You have to make a choice whether this is going to leave you completely bitter or whether you try to move on in honor of your child.”
When he was 12, Grayson told his mother he didn’t feel like a girl.
“On some level, you’re thinking maybe this is going to pass, but honestly from the minute he transitioned he never looked back,” Driscoll said. “When you know who you want to be and you know who your authentic self is there is no reason to put it off.”
Now, Driscoll wants lawmakers to know her son’s story before voting on these bills she says are anti-trans
“If you understood what these kids have to fight through every day just to feel accepted in this world and you throw this stuff on them, it’s too much. It’s too much,” Driscoll said.
The sponsor of the bills banning children from having the same medical procedures Grayson had says this doesn’t come from a hateful place.
“To be making a decision like that with lifelong consequences between the ages of say 12 and 18 is just something I don’t think is prudent,” said Rep Cezar McKnight, D-Kingstree. “I don’t care what adults do as long as it’s not harming someone else.”
His colleagues said all these bills together aren’t targeting anyone as some critics say it is.
“If you ask for something and get a reply it’s called an answer not a target,” said Rep. Chris Wooten, R-Lexington. “We wouldn’t be having this issue if someone had not asked to be involved as a male in women’s sports or a transgender in sports. We wouldn’t be having these conversations if people weren’t getting surgery before the age of 18.”
People who work regularly with trans youth said they are looking at this issue all wrong.
Doctors and experts say this sends a message that is harmful to people already at high risk of suicide.
“For a lot of these young people, this is a matter of life and death,” said Executive Director for We Are Family Nijeeah Richardson said. “It’s about seeing yourself the way you know yourself to be, and to take that someone away is absolutely cruel.”
Driscoll said while her son had all her support and love she knows he needed more.
“If it was enough he would still be here,” Driscoll said. “They need laws behind them.”
One pediatrician who works with trans youth also said hormone treatments mentioned in this bill are reversible and if someone stops taking them puberty will resume. Supporters of this bill said taking medication to change or alter someone’s hormones will still have long-term impacts on their health.
If you are struggling and looking for help please reach out to the suicide lifeline or text crisis text line. You can call 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741-741.