What did former Republican Gov. Nikki Haley really say about transgender surgeries for minors and bathroom bills?
Transgender issues have exploded as a major focal point in the Republican primary, especially between Haley and former Gov. Ron DeSantis; the latter has released campaign ads questioning Haley’s conservative credentials and accusing her of wanting the law/government to stay out of the issue of transgender surgeries for minors. He also accused her of killing a “bathroom bill” in South Carolina when she was governor.
In our continuing efforts to educate primary voters, WRN has decided to take a look at what Haley actually said. We are not endorsing a primary candidate in the race.
It turns out that Haley’s comment on transgender surgeries for minors was much less clear than DeSantis is making it; although her statement was somewhat garbled and difficult to follow, she did say she thought “permanent” change should wait until people are 18. That makes the definition of “permanent” important (would she apply it to puberty blockers that can do irreversible damage?), but a fair read would seem to eliminate surgeries.
On the bathroom bill, her record is clear: She opposed a bill in South Carolina, which got bottled up in committee, even bragging on video that she “strong-armed” it so it would fail. However, DeSantis doesn’t have a clean record on that front, as he’s on video from 2018 saying he would oppose a bathroom bill in Florida. In 2023, DeSantis did sign a law that “restricts transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity in public schools, universities, government buildings and prisons.”
Here’s the deep dive:
Haley on the Bathroom Bill
“They had a bill to try to say that men shouldn’t go into girls’ bathrooms, and she killed that bill,” DeSantis said during the debate. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the bill stalled in a legislative committee, but Haley did oppose it.
In 2016, the News and Observer reported, “Transgender bathroom bill not needed, Haley says.”
Here’s what she told Fox News in 2022 (see video at link):
“When I was governor they wanted to bring in a bathroom bill, a transgender bathroom bill, and I strong-armed it and said we are not going to have that in South Carolina because typically what happens if you truly care about safety of your kids, when there is a transgender student, the school itself works with the parents, you give them an individual bathroom. That way they are not made fun of, that way they don’t feel uncomfortable, but you don’t make all the other students feel it. This is what is going wrong. You are not looking at the masses and trying to say what is good for them? You are looking for one student in creating an unsafe situation for everybody, and the idea that girls have to speak up at 14, we know strong girls make strong women, but they should not have to deal with this right now, and who is helping them? No one is there for the girls.”
Haley discussed why she opposed a bathroom bill as governor of South Carolina to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“There are absolutely — we need to take care of these kids. And that’s why in South Carolina, when we had the issue of — you know, they were transgender kids, when I was Governor,” Haley said.
“Yeah, the bathroom bill, yeah,” Tapper said.
“We didn’t have the bathroom bill,” Haley said.
Tapper responded, “Right.”
“Because I didn’t have the bathroom bill come into South Carolina because I knew that if we had a transgender child, they would come meet with the principal. The principal would give them their own private bathroom so that they were safe. And the majority of the student body didn’t even have to deal with it. So I didn’t want us to say, OK, you go to this bathroom, you go to that one, you just deal with them individually. That was the safest way for everybody. We do need to be humane about it,” Haley said.
“But now what about the idea that this girl in New Hampshire that I talked to, she’s a senior in high school, and she said, every class, they talk about transgenderism, and she said, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells because we’ll be canceled if we say anything about it. That’s what I’m talking about. It has overtaken the entire conversation, and that’s not fair to the rest of our kids. So I think there is a humane way to do it. Let’s get them the help, the therapy, whatever they need so that they can feel better and not be suicidal, but don’t go and cause all these other kids to feel like that pressure is on them. They don’t deserve that, and they don’t need that, either,” she added.
During the debate, Haley argued that, at the time she opposed the bathroom bill, “maybe a handful of kids” were affected so she supported having “boys go into boys’ bathrooms, girls go into girls’ bathrooms, and if anyone has an issue with that, they use a private bathroom.”
DeSantis on Bathroom Bills
However, according to The New York Post, this is what DeSantis said in 2018 at a Republican gubernatorial forum in Florida about bathroom bills:
“Do you support or oppose a law that would allow a transgender person to pick the bathroom that they choose?” moderator Frank Luntz asked DeSantis.
“I would not pass a law. I would leave it as it is and stay out of that,” DeSantis said, adding, “Obviously I’d have to read the bill, but I think getting into the bathroom wars — I don’t think that’s a good use of our time.”
DeSantis’s campaign told The Post, “Ron DeSantis’ record on this issue is crystal clear and says it all. The governor championed, and this year signed into law, HB 1521 which protects women from having men use their restrooms.”
Here’s what the South Carolina law said:
“TO ADD A SUBSECTION TO PROVIDE THAT UNITS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN THIS STATE MAY NOT ENACT LOCAL LAWS, ORDINANCES, ORDERS, OR OTHER REGULATIONS THAT REQUIRE A PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION OR A PRIVATE CLUB OR OTHER ESTABLISHMENT NOT IN FACT OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO ALLOW A PERSON TO USE A MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY BATHROOM OR CHANGING FACILITY REGARDLESS OF THE PERSON’S BIOLOGICAL SEX; TO AMEND TITLE 10, CHAPTER 1 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS CONCERNING PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND PROPERTY, BY ADDING ARTICLE 3 TO PROVIDE THAT MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY BATHROOMS AND CHANGING FACILITIES LOCATED ON PUBLIC PROPERTY SHALL BE DESIGNATED FOR AND ONLY USED BY A PERSON BASED ON HIS BIOLOGICAL SEX; TO AMEND CHAPTER 23, TITLE 59 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO SCHOOL BUILDINGS AND OTHER SCHOOL PROPERTY, TO PROVIDE THAT LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS SHALL REQUIRE EVERY MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY BATHROOM OR CHANGING FACILITY THAT IS DESIGNATED FOR STUDENT USE TO BE DESIGNATED FOR AND USED ONLY BY STUDENTS BASED ON THEIR BIOLOGICAL SEX, AND TO PROVIDE EXEMPTIONS AND DEFINITIONS.”
Nikki Haley Transgender Surgeries & Procedures for Children Comments
CBS News’ Tony Dokoupil asked Haley “What care should be on the table when a 12-year-old child in this country assigned female at birth says, ‘actually I feel more comfortable living as a boy.’ What should the law allow the response to be?”
Her full response is as follows:
“I think the law should stay out of it and I think parents should handle it. This is a job for the parents to handle,” Haley said. “And then when that child becomes 18, if they want to make more of a permanent change, they can do that. But I think up until then, we see with our teenage kids, they go through a lot during puberty. They go through a lot of confusion, they go through a lot of anxiety, they go through a lot of pressures. We should support them the whole way through, but we don’t need to go and enforce something in schools. We don’t need schools sitting there hiding from the parents what gender pronoun they are using. We don’t need to have those conversations in schools. Those are conversations that should be had at home.”
Some video clips by DeSantis have ended her comments at “I think the law should stay out of it.”
Haley also said during a CNN town hall, “I want everybody to live the way they want to live,” Haley said. “Let’s get them the help, the therapy, whatever they need so that they can feel better and not be suicidal.”
She added, “All of these things have gone to where they are pushing, you know, and transgender, the whole issue of the transgender, it’s not that people don’t think in America you should live the way you want to live. I want everybody to live the way they want to live, but stop pushing your views on everybody else. That’s the problem, is there starting to push everything on the rest of us.”
In the debate, Haley said, “I said that if you have to be 18 to get a tattoo, you should have to be 18 to have anything done to change your gender.”
In May 2023, in a televised interview, Haley said, “You shouldn’t allow a child to have a gender-changing procedure until the age of 18 when they are an adult and they can make that decision, but we shouldn’t have taxpayer dollars ever going for that.”
“There’s a lot of things. I mean, you want to start with biological boys playing in girl sports. That’s one thing,” Haley said to NBC News. “The fact that we have gender pronoun classes in the military now, I mean, all of these things that are pushing what a small minority want on the majority of Americans, it’s too much. It’s too much.”
“My daughter ran track in high school. I don’t even know how I would have that conversation with her,” she added. “How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year. We should be growing strong girls, confident girls,” she told NBC.
“We have to grow strong girls, and that is being threatened right now,” she said. “Whether it’s biological boys going into girls’ locker rooms or playing in girls’ sports, women are being told their voices don’t matter. If you think this kind of aggressive bullying isn’t part of the problem, you’re not paying attention,” Haley said to NBC.
WRN reached out to the Haley campaign for her specific stance on puberty blockers and hormone therapies for children. We will update the article when they respond.
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