Last week, in remarks at the Greenville-Spartanburg Republican Women’s Meeting, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright addressed the anti-trans bill moving through South Carolina’s legislature. S. 1203 would restrict access to restrooms in public buildings based on the sex listed on an individual’s birth certificate and is currently being heard in a Senate subcommittee.
In expressing his support for the bill, the sheriff characterized trans women as “guys” and threatened violence against trans South Carolinians.
“[I]f you are a guy and you go into bathroom with my wife, I’m going to make the news,” Wright said. “I’m going to whip your tail if you go in there with my wife while she’s trying to use the bathroom.”
National Centre for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling said in response:
I am shocked that Sheriff Wright would threaten police brutality against South Carolinians for doing something everyone has to do every day. Transgender people have been using public restrooms that match the gender they live as every day across South Carolina without hurting anyone, and this man is threatening them with physical harm. He does not seem fit to be a law enforcement officer. And the legislators in South Carolina who are scaring the public about transgender people to score some political points should be ashamed of themselves. Governor Haley was correct: South Carolina does not need this bill. Nor does it need this hate-filled conversation or this sheriff.
The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that one-fifth of trans people have been harassed by police, and that 6 percent have been physically assaulted. As Sheriff Wright’s comments show, bills like the one moving through South Carolina’s legislature right now only put trans people at even higher risk of violence from the law enforcement officers who are supposed to serve and protect them.