A Democratic state representative in South Carolina found himself on the receiving end of his own party’s ire after he joined 23 Republicans in supporting a measure aimed at blocking hormonal treatments for transgender youth.
Last week, lawmakers introduced the South Carolina Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act aimed at prevent minors from undergoing sex-reassignment procedures. The measure would restrict doctors from prescribing medication or performing procedures to alter gender or delay puberty for anyone below the age of 18, with felony charges possible for doctors who violate the law, the Associated Press reported.
The bill’s primary sponsor is state Rep. Cezar McKnight, who represents South Carolina’s 101st House District, a largely Democratic area where two-thirds of residents are Black, according to the AP.
McKnight addressed his critics in an interview on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Tuesday, telling host Tucker Carlson such procedures should only be performed on adults.
“I’m not anti-transgender. I’m not anti-gay. I’m not a homophobe and I resent people suggesting such,” McKnight said. “It was just this last week that I fought to put in protections in our new hate crime bill legislation that would protect gay people, transgender, lesbians. I fought to put that in there … I don’t hate anyone.”
However, McKnight continued, “What I am about is protecting children, 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 your adolescence? It’s ridiculous.”
McKnight added he was surprised at the outpouring of support he had received from “gay people [and] transgender people who support this bill and who have reached out to me.
“At first I was really scared because I was like ‘OK, they are going to primary [me]’ and what have you. But I have people from my community, very conservative people. who told me, ‘I have never voted for you before but I will vote for you now,” he said.
“I like to say that I caused myself good trouble because all the opposition has done is help me win the Republican parts of my district,” he told Carlson.
The lawmaker, who serves as a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, said his party has yet to wake up to the reality that “African-American Democrats are very much more conservative than their White Caucasian counterparts.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.