VICTORY: South Dakota Governor Shows Leadership with Veto of Anti-Transgender Bill

By Adam Polaski • March 1, 2016 • 5:12 pm

In an enormous victory for the values of privacy and dignity that all Americans hold dear, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard announced today that he would veto invasive legislation that would have irreparably harmed transgender children in the state. The bill, HB1008, singled out transgender students for discrimination by prohibiting them from using the restroom that matches the gender they live as everyday. If it had passed, it would have been the first law of its kind anywhere in the United States. 


From the transgender people who shared their stories far and wide to the businesses who spoke out about the economic consequences of the bill to supporters who made their voices loud and clear – this victory is a testament to the strength of the movement we’re building nationwide.

Governor Daugaard is showing great leadership in sending this bill where it belongs – in the garbage can. A real turning point in the fight to defeat this bill came last week, when the governor met with transgender students, who helped open his eyes to the real damage that HB1008 would have caused. It can often be challenging for people to understand the lives of transgender people – and just a few weeks ago, when it looked likely that Gov. Daugaard would sign this bill into law, he said he’d never met a transgender person, to his knowledge. Then, he had a chance to meet with transgender people, began to understand, and did the right thing. His journey is the journey that so many Americans must now confront.

Freedom for All Americans has been proud to work  this year with our state and national partners, including the ACLU of South Dakota, on the campaign to defeat HB1008. Through our States Action Team, we supported lobbyists on the ground in South Dakota, provided strategic communications guidance and digital content, and channeled thousands of messages to the governor urging him to veto.

Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe celebrated the announcement today. He said:

“We applaud Gov. Daugaard for taking such a thoughtful and deliberative approach to this decision, taking the time to meet with his constituents and ultimately doing the right thing to protect real students in his state. His decision shows that discrimination against transgender students is not welcome in South Dakota.”

House Bill 1008, colloquially known as the “Genital Check Bill,” would have required students to prove their sex by submitting a birth certificate, blood or DNA samples. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Brock Greenfield, R – Clark, suggested that a “visual accounting” would help determine which restrooms students would be allowed to use.

McTighe continued:

“This just proves what can happen when elected officials stop listening to the scare tactics, and actually sit down and meet transgender people. While we are thrilled this dangerous bill will not become law, it’s important to remember that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in South Dakota and 32 other states are not fully protected from discrimination. Freedom for All Americans will continue working to ensure that no one can lose their jobs, be kicked out of their home, or denied public services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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