Kentucky LGBTQ+ residents discuss anti-trans bills

Kentucky LGBTQ+ residents discuss anti-trans bills
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 11:16 PM CDT
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - On Thursday, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 150, a bill that targets gender orientation.

It’s one of over 10 LGBTQ+ bills that were proposed in the latest legislative session, and people in the Tri-State have voiced some concern.

Sinna K Von Trapp is a drag performer in Owensboro, and she says recent legislative activity has her genuinely scared.

“[Tuesday] was the first day that I actually felt a little weary about being in drag in daylight,” she said. “I don’t like that.”

18-year-old Cooper Benson-Beck is a gay student at Henderson County High School, and he said he’s worried for his trans peers.

“I’m scared of them taking their own life because they don’t have the resources to get through it,” he said. “I’m scared of them being subject to harassment and not being able to use the bathroom at school.”

For Sinna, it was Senate Bill 115, which would have outlawed drag performances on public property or in the presence of minors on the grounds that lawmakers claimed drag is inherently sexual.

“None of us here are coming here with any sort of perversion in mind,” she said. “Perversion is being projected onto us.”

She said her performances simply involve lip-syncing in lavish costumes, and they make sure they’re always appropriate for their audience.

She said she worries that by suppressing that art, they’re suppressing people who want to express an important part of themselves, and that’s something many kids can relate to.

“Our queer children need that,” she said. “They need that representation, they need to know that their peers and their elders exist, and we need to be allowed to come together and show those children that we’re here for them in those safe spaces.”

For Cooper, it’s Senate Bill 150.

It would make gender-affirming care for trans kids illegal, allow teachers to misgender trans kids, and prohibit schools from talking about sexual orientation with any student.

“It’s hard when you have educators who don’t know how to navigate those difficult conversations or you have educators who aren’t allowed to,” he said. “It’s going to leave kids having to figure it out on their own.”

He said he worries about trans kids committing suicide, and many of his LGBTQ friends already have plans to flee the state because of legislature like this.

“This bill is a very clear threat and they’re terrified,” he said. “They truly believe that the Kentucky government hates them.”

He said he’s tried to have local government officials prove that wrong.

“I’ve emailed my legislators,” Benson-Beck said. “I have sent Robby Mills an email asking him to just sit down and talk to students. I think these politicians, especially the Henderson politicians specifically who are voting yes on these bills, who are co-sponsoring these bills, they are ignoring us.”

Senate Bill 115 did not gain enough traction to be voted on in the House, but some representatives are working to revive that bill.

Senate Bill 150 passed both the Senate and the House on Thursday, and Governor Andy Beshear has until the end of next week to veto it, otherwise it becomes a law.