Video: How Transgender Students Helped Defeat South Dakota’s Anti-Transgender HB1008

By Megan Clayton • March 3, 2016 • 1:59 pm

Thomas Wayne Lewis is a senior at Sioux Falls Lincoln High School. He is transgender – born a girl but lives his life as a boy – but he was prevented from using the men’s restroom at his school following his transition. A bill that was pushed through the South Dakota legislature this winter, HB 1008, would have written into law the kind of discrimination Thomas experienced.

HB 1008, invasive legislation colloquially known as the “Genital Check Bill,” would have singled out transgender students for discrimination by prohibiting them from using the restroom unless they could prove their sex by submitting a birth certificate, blood or DNA samples.

In an effort to defeat HB 1008 Thomas recently spoke in front of South Dakota’s Senate Education Committee about anxiety attacks he would have after being forced to use the women’s restroom. He felt different, and separated from the other kids at his school. The way this bill targeted him “makes me feel like I’m not a human being.”

Watch his emotional speech:

Thanks to brave students like Thomas, we were able to defeat HB 1008. Two days ago, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed the bill, and today, March 3, the South Dakota House of Representatives voted to sustain that veto.

A turning point in this successful fight came when Gov. Daugaard met with transgender children like Thomas who would have been harmed by the legislation. Gov. Daugaard said he had never met a transgender person before speaking with students, and that once he had that chance he began to understand the discrimination transgender people face every day. Stories like Thomas’ ultimately drove him to do the right thing and veto the bill.

See how we defeated HB 1008:

Freedom for All Americans is proud to elevate the personal stories of transgender Americans and fight for their rights every day. Click here to read more about our work with the Transgender Freedom Project.

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