When concerned citizens met in Raleigh in late March to debate North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, a lone transgender teen boy faced down the state legislators who were about to drastically impact his life.
Skye Thomson is a high school student in Greenville, North Carolina, who has become a passionate activist at just 15-years-old. At a March 23 hearing, Thomson went before North Carolina’s Senate judiciary committee and explained what it was like to endure the passage of the contentious House Bill 2 (HB 2) as a trans teen.
“I’ve dealt with bullying my whole life,” said Thomson. “And now I worry that my own state lawmakers are bullying me as well.”
North Carolina’s HB 2 mandates that people in the state use bathrooms and other facilities solely in accordance with their gender assigned at birth—meaning a trans boy would have to use the girls’ restroom at school and a trans girl would have to change with boys in a locker room.
“Being in a public high school and not being allowed in the right bathroom for our own gender is embarrassing,” Thomson told the committee. “And it gives bullies all the more reason to pick on us.”
With HB 2’s passage sparking national protests, Thomson isn’t backing down. He wrote an open letter to Gov. Pat McCrory, asking to meet, and posted it online.
“I wanted to tell you my story, really bad things that have happened to me that I’m not comfortable sharing in this letter and that should never happen to a kid,” Thomson wrote to McCrory. “Your staff said they would try to find a way for us to meet, but we never did. You signed HB 2 into law an hour later.”
The North Carolina governor still hasn’t responded to Thomson’s request. But on Tuesday, LGBT advocates began to apply pressure on social media, insisting that Gov. McCrory finally agree to #MeetWithSkye.
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) April 19, 2016
On April 12, Gov. McCrory appeared to succumb to public pressure when he announced an executive order making slight adjustments to HB 2. But critics called the order “symbolic” and noted that the bathroom restrictions were still in place, alongside other controversial elements of the state law.
Transgender teens have remained at the forefront of the so-called “bathroom bill” debates that are sweeping Southern states. Last week, two trans middle school students—both just 13—spoke at a similar senate hearing in South Carolina in opposition to that state’s proposed law.
“All I want is to be able to use the men’s restroom with the rest of my nontransgender peers, but this doesn’t happen, and it won’t happen if this bill is passed,” said 13-year-old Grayson at the South Carolina hearing. “The people introducing this bill are victimizing the innocent. When I enter a men’s bathroom, I just want to use the facilities, wash my hands, and leave.”
Update 2:41 pm CT, April 19: The spelling of Skye Thomson’s name has been corrected.