Dear Governor Dennis Daugaard:
Last week I wrote to your colleagues in the South Dakota legislature urging them not to pass House Bill 1008. The bill targets transgender people like me and is unenforceable without terrifying intrusions into the medical information and bodily integrity of South Dakota youth. I explained as well how the bill would do great harm to transgender young people who are growing up in a world that is telling them they must be expelled from common space and shuttled off to their own bathrooms or locker rooms not to be seen.
Today, I am writing to you as a parent urging you to veto HB 1008. I am the father of a three and a half year-old. I don’t sleep. I take pride in both my jobs — of parenting my child and being a lawyer for my community. On some sleepless nights, I think about the world my daughter will navigate as she grows up.
See, I don’t know who my kid will be. She might be trans. She might have biochemical and emotional needs that the world does not accept. She might be so many things and whoever she is, I want the world to nurture and accept her. I want that confidence and joy that she carries as a toddler to not be crushed by an unwelcoming and hostile world - a world that tells her she is a freak or that her dad is.
Yesterday, I read this powerful piece - another letter to you urging your veto of HB 1008 - by Wayne Maines, the father of a transgender daughter. He wrote of watching his daughter face the type of struggles that I have faced and that many young people will face after us both. Struggles about being ostracized, about losing friends, about imagining whether we even had a future to dream about. And as I am sure you know as a parent yourself, your kids’ struggles are your own. Watching your child in pain is worse than experiencing that pain yourself.
Today, I know my kid is proud of me and I am so proud of her. Our beautiful family shares an investment in building a world that loves and appreciates all people regardless of their differences.
Don’t crush her spirit or our spirits or the spirits of kids who still look at each other and just see playmates and not enemies or freaks.
As a parent, as a transgender person, as a fellow human being, I urge you to veto HB 1008.