Skye Thomson doesn’t want to worry about getting beat up every time he steps into a public restroom. But that’s what he fears ever since the so-called “bathroom bill” became law last month in North Carolina.
“It basically gives permission to bully people,” the 15-year-old high school freshman told TODAY.
The law, also known as House Bill 2, requires people to use public restrooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificates. For Skye, who was born a female but identifies as male, that means facing awkward, embarrassing and even dangerous encounters every time he enters a restroom.
Over the weekend, Skye sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory asking for a meeting to discuss the impact the legislation would have on him and other transgender individuals, including several students at his high school.
"By putting this law in place you’re putting kids like me in danger," he wrote.
Skye first became involved in the issue after he testified against the bill during a legislative committee hearing last month.
“I’ve dealt with bullying my whole life and now I worry that my own my state lawmakers are bullying me as well,” he told lawmakers at the time, ultimately pleading with them: “Don’t vote for hate.”
Skye said staffers from McCrory’s office initially approached him after the hearing, wanting to learn more about his personal experiences. But they failed to follow through on Skye's request for a personal meeting with the governor.
“I hoped that if we met you would see that I’m just like any other kid, a kid worth protecting. 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,” he wrote in his follow-up attempt over the weekend.
McCrory’s press office initially told TODAY the governor had not seen the letter yet.
Skye expressed confidence he and other transgender students would eventually get a meeting — one that could lead to changing the law.
“I personally believe that there’s no such thing as bad people. People may do bad things and do things without knowing, and that’s what’s going on here,” he said. “He (McCrory) just doesn’t know, and if we can help him learn, we can help others understand. He can help everyone else understand, and this whole issue can be resolved.”
Skye currently attends a high school where the principal, teachers and guidance counselors have been “extremely supportive” of him and other transgender students, said his mother, Deborah Thomson. But that doesn’t mean the bullying her son has faced all his life has stopped.
“He’s also had some encounters with people in places outside of the high school who have intentionally misgendered him,” she told TODAY.
Although Skye has dressed and identified as a male since he was 4 or 5, he only started requesting people use male pronouns to refer to him about a year and a half ago, she said.
"I know there are a lot of kids who came out much younger than my son did, even before they entered elementary school," she said, expressing hope that the state's restroom bill gets struck down. "I'm just thinking about these adorable transgirls, who have been known by their peers since kindergarten as female, but who now are going to be required by their schools to go into the boys bathroom. I think this law is so harmful and destructive."
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