Transgender Advocates Holding On To Hope

"We're sad, but we're not giving up”

A bill that some say targets the transgender community is one step away from becoming law in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Senate passed House Bill 1008 this afternoon and sent it to Governor Daugaard.

It requires transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate, or use a single-stall bathroom provided by the school.

The bill was passed with a 20 to 15 vote, angering advocates for the LGBTQ community.

The Center for Equality and the South Dakota ACLU has the same reactions.

Both know there is still a chance to reverse the passing, but just hours after the decision; they can’t help but feel a little deflated.

“The words that came out of my mouth were words like disgusting, despicable, backward, sad and weird,” says Director of Operations for the Center of Equality Ashley Joubert-Gaddis. 

Those were the many reactions that fled through Joubert-Gaddis, but one resilient feeling remains. 

“We’re sad, but we’re not giving up,” says Joubert-Gaddis. 

South Dakota ACLU Policy Director Libby Skarin was in Pierre today watching the floor, and she says their decision is harmful towards transgender students. 

“The passage of this bill sends a message that they’re not welcome here, that they’re outcasts,” says Skarin. “That we think they deserve some strange, special legislation and I think that’s incredibly hurtful.” 

While advocates say the bill is meant to protect the privacy of students, those opposing took to twitter using #hifromSD calling out the decision.

An example of support that Skarin hopes transgender students will find comfort in. 

“For all those kids across South Dakota who heard this news and may be incredible hurt by it, I would say there are a lot of people here in Pierre and across the state that support you and are here for you,” says Skarin. “We will never give up; we will always stand up for you.” 

The bill is now heading to Governor Daugaard, who can either sign or veto the State Senate’s decision, making the Governor the last string of hope for the LGBTQ community. 

“We expect him to do the right thing, we do expect him to veto it, quiet honestly we demand that,” says Joubert-Gaddis.

The South Dakota Democratic Party also expressed their disappointment today, calling the state the first in the nation for transgender discrimination.