Nebraska Dem with trans son vows to block all bills: "No one in the world holds a grudge like me"

"No one in the world cares less about being petty than me. I don't care. I don't like you," said Sen. Megan Hunt

Published March 24, 2023 12:51PM (EDT)

Senator Megan Hunt (Nebraska State Legislature)
Senator Megan Hunt (Nebraska State Legislature)

Nebraska Democratic state Sen. Megan Hunt vowed to filibuster every bill for the rest of the legislative session after the Nebraska Legislature advanced a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for people under 19.

The legislation, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Kathleen Kauth, would ban minors from seeking gender confirmation surgery and hormone treatments — issues that could impact Hunt's transgender son. She discussed her son and his testimony in committee on Wednesday and to the wider body the next day.

"My son is trans," Hunt said of her 12-year-old child, who she says has been unable to attain gender-affirming care. "And this bill, colleagues, is such an affront to me personally and would violate my rights to parent my child in Nebraska."

The bill is one of many anti-trans policies rolled out this year, according to Trans Legislation Tracker.

"If this bill passes, all your bills are on the chopping block, and the bridge is burned," Hunt warned the chamber. 

"We have made it clear that this is the line in the sand," Hunt said to lawmakers on Thursday.

"People have said, 'What if we go after your bills? What if we put a bunch of bills introduced by progressives up on the agenda? Are you going to filibuster those, too?' Yes, because we're not like you," Hunt explained. "We have a principle and a value that actually matters that much to us that we're willing to stand up for."

Hunt was scolded over her stance by Republicans, who said her pushback set a bad precedent.

"You really don't get it," Hunt said to Republican state Sen. R. Brad von Gillern. "You've crossed a line and you've gone too far."

"Don't say hi to me in the hall, don't ask me how my weekend was, don't walk by my desk and ask me anything. Don't send me Christmas cards ― take me off the list," Hunt warned. "No one in the world holds a grudge like me, and no one in the world cares less about being petty than me. I don't care. I don't like you."

"This hateful bill is not about policy. It is a basic human rights issue. The vote today will show us exactly which senators value the dignity, autonomy, and personhood of Nebraskans," Hunt added on Twitter. "Do not cross this line. Do not violate our rights"

Hunt joins Democratic state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh in her promise to filibuster the remainder of the legislature's 90-day session, which ends on June 9.

"I will burn the session to the ground over this bill," Cavanaugh warned.

"I will not give up on Nebraska children," she tweeted. "Failure isn't an option because, if I fail, I'm failing children, and I'm not going to fail children."

State senators Danielle Conrad and Jen Day also joined the team in filibustering all legislation.

On Wednesday, Day cried in the chamber while reading a letter from a psychologist who said the bill "will result in the deaths of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, likely before the end of the school year."

"I want all of you to go into the rotunda and look into the eyes of those parents and tell them that you're voting for this bill knowing that it could potentially kill their child," Day said with tears.

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Sen. John Fredrickson, the first openly gay man elected to the Nebraska Legislature, also cried in the chamber before reading a letter from a constituent who said that without gender-affirming care, her son would likely have taken his own life as a teenager.

Kauth — who has another bill that would ban trans people from using bathrooms and locker rooms or playing on sports teams that don't align with the sex listed on their birth certificates — accused her Democratic opponents of using "obnoxious hyperbole" and said they were being "self-serving and childish" with the filibuster.

"We want to get these kids every opportunity to let their body grow, to let their brain grow, to let things develop more fully and work through the issues they're experiencing," Kauth said in an interview Wednesday.

The bill has another round of debate before its third and final round of voting, Nebraska's KLIN reports. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, has said he would support the bill if it reaches him. 

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

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