GOP House candidate: Transgender people have 'an issue with mental illness'
© Getty Images

A Republican running for a House seat in South Carolina suggested at a candidate forum on Monday that transgender people are mentally ill. 

“You're either a man or a woman — and if you’re confused, you’ve got an issue with mental illness," former state Sen. Lee Bright said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Greenville News reported Tuesday that Bright made the remark at a forum for a dozen GOP candidates hoping to replace Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE (R), who announced his retirement in January.

“If we don’t get right, God is going to judge us, and let me tell you it is going to be painful," Bright said.

During his time as a state senator, Bright sponsored a 2016 bill to ban transgender people from using public bathrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms that did not match their birth gender.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Former Ukraine envoy offers dramatic testimony Nikki Haley: 'We should always protect whistleblowers' Haley: Giuliani should've been named 'special envoy' to Ukraine MORE, then the governor of South Carolina, said at the time that the law was unnecessary.

"We passed a law back in 1999 that dealt with religious liberty and it basically reflected the federal law, and it works just fine," Haley said. "In South Carolina, we are blessed because we don't have to mandate respect or kindness or responsibility in this state, and that law has worked perfectly."

The measure ultimately failed, The Greenville News reported

The results of a straw poll released after the event showed Bright coming in fourth, with 21 votes. 

James Epley finished first, with 46 votes, followed by Josh Kimbrell, with 30, and Stephen Brown, with 22. State Rep. Dan Hamilton received 19, and state Sen. William Timmons had 13.