A discussion of transgender issues on Thursday night highlighted the first meeting of the Young Democrats of Anderson County.
Jennifer Tague, operations director of SC Equality, said her group "battled and beat all 13 negative, anti-LGBT bills" that were considered in the current South Carolina General Assembly session.
"We are the only state in the Deep South that can say that," she said.
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Tague said an intense lobbying effort and strong ties with the state's business community helped block the bills that her group opposed.
One of those bills was a measure that would have required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their birth gender. Its sponsors included Sen. Kevin Bryant, a Republican from Anderson.
Capri Culpepper, a transgender teen from Anderson, was among the critics who testified against the bathroom bill at a Statehouse hearing last month. She previously settled a lawsuit against the state Department of Motor Vehicles after being told to remove her makeup for a driver's license photo. She also was a homecoming queen finalist last year at T.L. Hanna High School.
"Trans people's bodies are theirs. That is not something that other people need to be considering if they are trying to use the bathroom," Culpepper said at Thursday night's meeting. "To be quite honest, what does my genitalia have to do with your life?"
Culpepper's mother, Teresa Culpepper, spoke Thursday about how Capri Culpepper was suspended for four days after using the girls bathroom at T.L. Hanna High.
Capri Culpepper also was required to write a 16-page essay explaining "what she did wrong," her mother said.
Teresa Culpepper said Capri Culpepper left Hanna High is now attending Anderson 5 Charter School, where she hopes to graduate this spring.
Caleb Scuttles described a feature-length documentary film that he is making about Capri Culpepper's recent experiences. The film is expected to be completed this fall.
A woman at the meeting talked about how her transgender child is now being home-schooled after being harassed by students at Glenview Middle School in Anderson.
Tague said many transgender children struggle for acceptance.
"We just really need to wrap our arms around our trans kids and really support them and love them and let them know they're OK, because that is the most important part," she said.
About 25 people attended the meeting Thursday at McGee's Scot-Irish Pub in downtown Anderson. The Young Democrats of Anderson County plan to start having monthly meetings, said Phil Dudley, the group's president.
Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM