On February 16, 2016, Darcy sent this letter to the Governor of South Dakota in response to HB #1008.
Darcy encourages residents of South Dakota to contact Gov. Daugaard at 605.773.3212 or at the Governor’s website.
House Bill 1008 is making its way to your desk for your signature, and you and only you can prevent South Dakota from making the decision to legalize discrimination against transgender students in your state. While I am not a resident of South Dakota, I am deeply troubled by the knowledge that just hours south of my home, people like me will face state-sanctioned victimization which will have negative impacts on their psychological, physical, and economic wellbeing. You say that you have never met a transgender person. Let me enlighten you as to what it means to be transgender in the United States.
Being transgender means that there is a high likelihood (1 in 12) of meeting an untimely death at the hand of another, and nearly half report physical abuse or violence. Moreover, transgender individuals have a 59% chance of being bullied in their schools, and 80% report feeling unsafe at school. For this reason, many transgender students drop out of school or do not pursue higher degrees, resulting in higher rates of homelessness (40%), incarceration (30%), and unemployment (14%).
These numbers are appalling, and their cause is falsely attributed, as one of your legislators claimed, to the misinformed notion that being transgender means being mentally abnormal or “crazy.” Being transgender is not a mental disorder as being transgender does not automatically entail significant emotional distress and psychological disability. Many transgender people live successful and fulfilling lives in a variety of scientific and artistic disciplines. Because of the intense stress transgender people experience in their individual processes of coming out and becoming a better version of themselves (stresses such as rejection from family and friends, the cost of health care, social alienation, etc.) many transgender people suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than the rest of the population. Most major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics denounce views or therapies which would attempt to “fix” transgender people or make them feel abnormal and, instead, embrace evidence-based practices which seek to improve the quality of life for transgender patients. They recognize, as does scientific research into gender identity, that being transgender is just a normal expression of human life.
As a proud and open transgender woman, I have faced many of these perils myself. Despite all of the heartache I have suffered, I am, today, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology and living a life that openly affirms who I am. I would not be in the place I am today if uninformed and prejudiced laws like HB#1008 were on the books in my home state of Alabama. Schools should be a place where students are free to learn and live and to discover who they are and how they fit into society. If you sign this bill, you will be instituting a law which forces children to deny who they are, puts them in the position of being victimized by their peers, withholds the basic human right of using the bathroom in safety, and reinforces the idea that transgender Americans are worthless, second-class citizens who deserve to be brutally victimized and thrown away like trash.
Since moving to the upper Midwest, I have fallen in love with its wild beauty and the graciousness of its people. People who care about one another, and people who are there for each other in times of need. A small portion of your population needs you, Governor. They wait with baited breath to know if they will be treated with the dignity owed to all South Dakotans, or if they will be rejected by their home, their neighbors, and their government. I hope you will uphold the ideals of justice and liberty espoused by our Republic and veto this harmful bill.
Darcy Jeda Corbitt-Hall, B.A.
Editor’s note: Darcy never received a response from the governor.