A Republican candidate for Congress told a GOP crowd that transgender people have “an issue with mental illness.”
Lee Bright was speaking with other congressional candidates in Greenville when he said, “You’re either a man or a woman — and if you’re confused, you’ve got an issue with mental illness,” the Greenville News reports.
This isn’t the first time Bright has spoken out on gender identity issues. In 2015, Bright sponsored a “bathroom bill” while serving in the S.C. Senate.
Modeled on a controversial North Carolina law, the bill would have prevented transgender people from using public restrooms for the gender with which they identify.
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The bathroom bill ultimately failed to pass, and Bright was defeated in a 2016 Republican primary by current Spartanburg Sen. Scott Talley.
Now Bright is one of 13 Republicans seeking the nomination for Congress in South Carolina’s 4th District, where current Rep. Trey Gowdy is retiring at the end of the year.
Bright’s comments came as part of a candidate forum hosted by the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club, arguing he had proven his conservative bona fides during his time in the Senate.
“I’ve delivered under a lot of pressure and a lot of heat. I’ve had those national cameras on me,” Bright said. “They’ve come at me hard and heavy, but I’ve stood my ground. I’m heavy as concrete.”
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association reclassified “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria” in their diagnostic manual, in an attempt to “avoid stigma” associated with calling the condition a disorder. Both terms apply to the sense that one’s gender identity does not match the gender assigned at birth.
“It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder,” the organization said at the time. “The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition.”
A Columbia middle school student and his mother testified on behalf of the transgender community saying “bathroom bill” is unnecessary Tracy GlantzThe State
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