Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Congressman Hill responds to transgender classmate's complaint

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 10:58 AM

click to enlarge SARAH VESTAL
Readers of the Arkansas Blog may remember Sarah Vestal, who wrote here in 2015 about her attendance at the 40th reunion of the 1975 class of Catholic High School, where she was known as Charles.

Vestal has been speaking up vigorously in the recent discussion about transgender use of restrooms. She visited the office yesterday of U.S. Rep. French Hill,  also a member of the Catholic High class of 1975. She was unhappy with the reception and wrote Hill:


Am I the only transgender person you know, French?

I want to explain to you why you are putting me in physical danger by refuting my human rights. Why exactly will you not meet with me and hear my concerns directly? Why did I have to be treated so rudely in your LR office yesterday? So, come on French. You have known me for 50 years and I am hurting with this wrong policy of yours.

Sarah Vestal
Hill responded today by letter that Vestal shared:

Dear Dr. Vestal:

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent laws affecting the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals and requesting to visit with me on this issue. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond and am glad you had the chance to speak with my Deputy Chief of Staff.

While I understand your concerns surrounding the debate about gender identification and the use of bathrooms and locker rooms, I believe this is an issue best left to our states, local communities, and private businesses. The federal government's recent directive to our nation's schools on gender identification is outside the scope of its power and should remain in the hands of our local school officials and administrators. Our local school officials should do what they believe is best to continue to ensure a school environment for Arkansas's students that promotes safety and health above all else.

I appreciate the fact that you are personally affected by this current debate, and thank you for coming by my district office in Little Rock to discuss this important issue. As you may know, Arkansas law currently does not specify which bathroom people must use and the law permits transgender individuals born in the state to amend their birth certificates to represent their gender identity. I advocate for tolerance and the removal of any and all prejudices from society, and as I continue to monitor this issue I will keep in mind your thoughts and concerns.

French Hill
Member of Congress
In the current climate in Arkansas, I think you have to give Hill some credit. He provides a pathway to the bathroom that North Carolina and many others will not, with the customary Republican bashing of President Obama for citing federal law and federal court precedent as a guide for school officials to follow.

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