Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed the controversial South Dakota anti-transgender bathroom bill on Tuesday. The bill would have defined gender as biological sex and it would have restricted bathroom access in schools for transgender students.
“I am so happy right now. You have no idea,” – Thomas Lewis
Last week, the law seemed all but a certainty to be signed. The Governor admitted he had never met a transgender person before, so he decided to meet with some transgender students who were able to make their case. “I am so happy right now. You have no idea,” said 18-year-old Thomas Lewis, a transgender high school student in Sioux Falls, when speaking to the Associated Press. Lewis was one of the students who met with the Governor.
Transgender students also had a groundswell of support from the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, who labeled the bill discriminatory. Caitlyn Jenner also got involved, calling for the Governor Daugaard to veto the bill.
Supporters of the bill said it was created in response to President Barack Obama administration’s interpretation of the federal Title IX anti-discrimination law related to education. Federal officials have declared that students have a right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity under Title IX rules.
2016 is a year where we will see 44 bills that would affect the rights of transgender citizens. 29 of them are related to bathroom access. This one was a big victory for the transgender community. The battle rages on.