SC Democrat defends bill blocking gender affirming treatment to trans youth

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A Democratic state lawmaker from South Carolina made an appearance on Fox New’s Tucker Carlson’s show Tuesday night to advocate for a bill that would block doctors from giving gender affirming medical treatment to transgender youth.

S.C. Rep. Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg, said the bill, which he filed in the House about two weeks ago, has brought him support from conservative members of his district that otherwise would never consider supporting him.

“You’ve obviously caused a lot of trouble to yourself by doing this,” Carlson said at the beginning of the segment, referring to the unusual circumstance of a Democrat introducing legislation that his party generally opposes. Carlson is one of Fox News’ most popular political commentators and TV hosts, known for his outspoken, fiery viewpoints that often are seen as controversial.

“I like to say I’ve caused myself good trouble because all the opposition has done is help me win Republican parts of my district,” McKnight responded.

McKnight’s bill, which has bipartisan support, would ban medical professionals from performing procedures or providing medication that would change the appearance of a minor’s gender or delay puberty. That ban would extend to drugs that could block puberty from happening as well as estrogen or testosterone, which are given to transgender individuals who are transitioning to the gender they identity with. It would also block doctors from performing surgeries and similar medical procedures.

Doctors could face felony charges and up to 20 years imprisonment for violating the law. If convicted of a felony, a doctor could also lose their medical license.

The bill is one of a number of similar pieces of legislation filed across the country.

McKnight was instantly criticized after filing the bill. Transgender and gay rights advocates said the bill is harmful and a waste of legislators’ time.

One concern about the legislation is that it would require school officials to notify parents if children disclose they are transgender.

McKnight fired back at critics on Fox News Tuesday night.

“The reason I did this is simply this: I’m not anti-transgender, I’m not anti-gay, I’m not a homophobe and I resent people suggesting such,” McKnight said.

McKnight pointed out that he was one of the legislators that pushed for LGBTQ protections to be added back into a hate crime bill going through the House. Enhanced penalties for crimes committed against victims because of their sexual orientation or gender were initially stripped out because Republican leaders thought the bill would not pass by the end of the year if those protections were included.

“I don’t hate anyone. What I’m about is protecting children,” McKnight said. “And I think that, in South Carolina, you have to be 18 years old to get a tattoo, so how is it that you can get an irrevocable procedure performed on you at any age during you adolescence? It’s ridiculous.”

McKnight pointed out that the government regularly places limitations on the medical field, such as when it regulates which medicines can be sold and how it can be dispersed.

The Williamsburg Democrat told Carlson that he received support that he wasn’t expecting after filing the bill, including from members of the LGBTQ community who reached out to him in support of it.

“At first, I was really scared because I was like, ‘O.K., they’re going to primary and what have you.’ ” McKnight said. “But, I have people from my community, very conservative people tell me, ‘I’ve never voted for you before but I’ll vote for you now.’ ”