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Nikki Haley Says It's Abusive for Trans Women to Use Female Bathrooms. She Opposed a Bill to Stop It.

Courtesy of Marissa Forte

2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley recently came out against allowing biological male "transgender women" using women's restrooms and locker rooms. But at one point, the former governor did not always feel strongly about codifying laws to prevent such a thing from happening.

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During an appearance at the Palmetto Family Council’s Vision 24 National Conservative Forum on Saturday, Haley said women and girls needing to be concerned about a male using their facilities is "abusive."             

"I was the first one out of the gate when this happened. It is absolutely abusive and it is the women’s rights issue of our time. The idea — from a parents’ perspective — the idea that our girls are having to worry about who’s in the locker room with them. The idea that they’re having to worry when they go compete in sports," Haley said.       

"What are you doing when you’re allowing biological boys suddenly to intrude in their locker rooms and their sports? It’s wrong. And I will tell you I don’t know where the women’s groups are because this is the women’s issue of our time," she added.

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Haley's track record does not show her staunchly supporting legislation to protect women's restrooms and locker rooms. When Haley was governor of South Carolina, then-Republican state Sen. Lee Bright (R) introduced a bill that would require people to use bathrooms that aligned with the gender on their birth certificate. When asked about the bill, Haley said it was unnecessary simply because the issue hadn't occurred in the state yet.  

"I don’t believe it’s necessary. Because I think if you look at everything that we’ve had happen — there’s not one instance that I’m aware of. I look at South Carolina and we are, like I said, a state where we don’t have to mandate respect and kindness," she said at the time. "We're not hearing of any issues with religious liberty violations or anything else."

At the time, Haley's response to the bill that would have protected women received praise from leftist news site
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Slate:

Haley’s phrasing here—equal parts garbled and canny—deserves close attention. She provides a master class in shrewd deflection, declaring her opposition to a trans bathroom bill without ever saying the words transgender or bathroom. Instead, Haley dances around the issue...

...

You can criticize Haley for her evasions and elisions here, but at bottom, her wording is pretty brilliant. 'We’re not hearing any citizens that feel like they are being violated' is a marvelously broad, even abstract, way of criticizing the bathroom predator myth without discussing it directly. Haley neatly dismisses the bathroom issue without invoking all the buzzwords that make it controversial in the first place. Yes, it would be nice if Haley explicitly endorsed trans rights. But given her political limitations—and the tribulations of her northerly neighbor—she did a wonderful job leading her state away from the dark path of discrimination.

The bill was being considered at the same time North Carolina was under intense scrutiny for a similar bill that caused outrage from progressive groups. Bright told The State in 2016 North Carolina was getting criticized for a law "that’s just common sense."

"Now they want men who claim to be women to be able to go into bathrooms with children. And you got corporations who say this is okay. Well, I want to stand with North Carolina and I think you should as well, with our neighbors to the north, who are showing some common decency and some common sense," Bright also stated.

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Bright's bill ultimately did not have the votes to pass out of the state Senate.

On Thursday, in a statement to Townhall, Haley's campaign stated that the former governor always believed in keeping transgender males out of women's bathrooms and locker rooms and that she always fought for preserving fairness in women's sports.

“Nikki has always opposed biological men using women’s bathrooms or playing women’s sports. As governor, she dealt with the bathroom issue by working with schools privately. She has also been a leader in fighting to keep biological men out of women’s sports," the statement from Haley's campaign said.

Haley also addressed her stance on Bright's bill during a 2022 interview with Fox News, saying one reason she opposed it was because it did not provide a separate bathroom for the transgender student, which could have led to the transgender student being at risk for bullying.

"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're not made fun of, that way they don't feel uncomfortable, but you don't make all the other students feel it," Haley said, which could lead to an "unsafe environment for everybody."                                               

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The debate over transgender bathroom use, especially in schools, has intensified in recent years. The most prominent case came out of Loudoun County, Virginia, where parent Scott Smith said "a boy allegedly wearing a skirt entered a girls’ bathroom at nearby Stone Bridge High School, where he sexually assaulted Smith’s ninth-grade daughter," with the county school system attempting to cover up the incident, according to the Daily Wire

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