Our Pledge to Anti-Racism

From Arkansas to Texas, Trans Day of Visibility: A Personal Narrative

Written by Caden Campbell (they/them), Development Associate

 

Today is Trans Day of Visibility. A heavy day given today’s political climate and the mass of anti-trans legislation we are seeing across the country, places like Arkansas, my home state. I think about the lives lost to violence — murder, suicide, untreated illnesses, homelessness.

Recognizing my transness was a process that took many years of hard questions and confusion. We didn’t talk about trans existence in the Arkansas public school system. We didn’t talk about HRT or gender dysphoria in health class.  It wouldn’t be until 2009, that I would begin to understand and have access to the language that described my experience as a trans person. When I was able to claim that agency, a weight had been removed from my chest. But it didn’t necessarily make things easier. I could love me, but so many others could not…would not. Fighting for my existence was hard. Dealing with people’s ignorance, my own ignorance, was hard. Being tokenized and harassed was so hard.

On November 18th, 2011, I had my first dose of HRT. I had waited a long time, and when I finally could, I drove around blasting John Williams’ “Super Man.” It felt so good to be able to take this important step. First, I had to drive to Roanoke to see a therapist who would sign off on the process. Then I had to drive an hour in the opposite direction to meet with the only endocrinologist I could find who would provide HRT. There were no doctors in Lynchburg, Virginia, where I went to college, who would provide gender affirming care.

I could go into depth about the hard experiences in those early years. About how people asked about my genitals, about how people asked, “how I have sex.” About how I was made to feel like a problem for advocating for myself so often that I became too afraid to try. I could also tell you about some of my teachers, who supported me, fought for me. Acts of love that would keep me alive.

I could tell you about how I was called a “freak” an “it” a “confused young woman” by adults in my life, by people I knew and didn’t. I could tell you the moment I met my first trans masculine person, years later, and how I cried. Finally, I wasn’t alone. I could tell you about my name change and my gender change on my license. I could tell you about top-surgery and having to drive to a different state (Texas) to get that care; getting stopped in bathrooms along the way.

I could tell you about not seeing a PCP in years, because I couldn’t find one who was informed about my trans body. I could tell you about all the times that people have talked about my body, and how I became afraid of being seen; that standing up in front of people became terrifying. How all I want is to be invisible. I could tell you about my anxiety, my suicide attempt, my PTSD and my chronic depression. I could tell you about the fear that is always there.

I wish I could tell my experience eloquently. I wish I could write something compelling that would change the hearts and minds of those who hate us. But I can’t because I’m tired. I can’t because truly writing what I feel and what I’ve experienced is too hard, too painful, too rage inducing.

But things were getting better. I saw kids and young adults in Arkansas who finally had access to gender affirming care. Through organizations like Lucie’s Place that supports struggling LQBTQ+ young adults. Like the gender clinic at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences that provides HRT. There had been so much progress in Arkansas.

Last week that progress became stagnant. Arkansas State Legislators have passed three anti-trans bills, two of which have been signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson. All mirror the anti-trans bills we are seeing at the Texas State Legislature this year. Bills that will ultimately cost lives of adults and our children. I thought that trans kids growing up in 2021, would have an affirming and safe experience of the world. More than I had, more than our trans elders had before me. But as it stands, things are now getting worse in Arkansas. And if we don’t do something, they are going to get worse in Texas, too.

Hate and inaction led to the 44+ trans deaths in our country this past year. Hate and inaction has led to anti-trans legislation being introduced and passed. Hate and inaction is killing me. Hate and inaction is killing us all. Do something, anything, please. Help us save our kids and communities. Help us fight for human rights. The right to live freely without fear of discrimination. The right for medical care. The right to play. The right to live. And maybe, when that happens, the things I’ve experienced will stop. And our children will have a chance to grow up authentically and safe. Our children will have a chance to live. But only if we do something.

 

Senate Bill 29, Dan Patrick’s Transgender Sports Ban, will be debated on the Senate floor soon.

Send an email to your Senator asking them to oppose this discrimination.

 

 

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 11 Wrap-up: Preparing for the unexpected

March 29, 2021 by Debi Jackson

We are posting this legislative update a few days late so that we could practice self-care this weekend. Sharing our personal stories in a public forum, surrounded by opposition, all during a global pandemic puts folks on the front-lines of advocacy in a vulnerable place. We understand that our cups need to be full so that we can continue to be of service to our mission of full-lived equality for all LGBTQ+ Texans. We wholeheartedly thank everyone who showed up in-person and those who submitted written testimony to help us defend our rights.

Friday was the first all-hands-on-deck hearing at the Capitol. SB 29 would effectively ban transgender students from ever participating in sports consistent with who they are. The bill is ambiguous and leaves it up to the University Scholastic League (UIL) and Texas school districts to determine a student’s “biological sex,” which could result in massive liability for school districts as they try to implement or enforce this vague and harmful law, potentially intruding upon the privacy rights of all students and disproportionately harming young women and girls.

Equality Texas staff, board members, community partners like Transgender Education Network of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal helped mobilize nearly 50 Equality Texans to deliver in-person testimony. We were also able to submit over 140 written testimonies in opposition to Dan Patrick’s latest pet project attacking LGBTQ+ Texans, SB 29. See some of the testimony online. Unfortunately, after hours of testimony provided by trans kids, their parents, other athletes, coaches, and allies, Senate State Affairs voted to pass the bill out of committee close to midnight.

Eleven weeks into lege session, one thing is clear: we need to prepare for the unexpected and continue to show up in-person whenever possible. As we saw this week, a hearing can be scheduled surprisingly and with little notice. Our community needs to mobilize on a moment’s notice to have our voices heard, especially against the greatest threats to LGBTQ+ equality: anti-trans bills.

Because of your support, in less than 48 hours Equality Texas was able to mobilize witnesses, identify the appropriate messengers, and train new testifiers to defend the rights of transgender kids.

How to engage this week: 

Bill Movement and Important Developments

To submit written testimony, click here. To submit video testimony, click here. If you can testify in person, please reply to this email.

 

Thank you for fighting against this insidious legislation, and if you can support this work financially, please make a donation today.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Testimony Against SB 29

March 27, 2021 by Debi Jackson

On Friday March 26th, the first hearing about SB 29 — one of Dan Patrick’s “priority bills” for the 87th Legislative Session, which targets transgender youth who want to play sports — was held in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

More than 140 Equality Texans submitted written testimony against SB 29, and nearly 50 went to the Capitol in the middle of a continuing global pandemic to testify in person. Trans kids, their parents, athletes, coaches, and other allies told heartfelt personal stories, offered compelling arguments proving that such a bill isn’t needed, and challenged the Senators to focus on the actual serious needs of Texans. 

 

Watch some of the submitted testimony here.

 

 

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 10 Wrap-up: The T in LGBTQ+ needs you more than ever

March 19, 2021 by Debi Jackson

It is not a matter of “if” but when we will have a hearing on the anti-trans bills that have defined this session. 2021 is a record year for anti-transgender legislation across the country. Bills targeting transgender youth are flying through other state legislatures and we must do everything in our power right now to prepare to defend and protect the lives and humanity of LGBTQ+ people in Texas — especially transgender Texans who are at the center of these vicious and coordinated attacks. First up, we are likely to be fighting bills that seek to ban trans girls from participating in girls sports.

Imagine having to tell a child that they cannot safely participate in team sports because a law has been passed that deems them too different to do so or puts them at risk of being subjected to invasive physical exams. They might say…

“But why can’t I play?” 

What would you answer? Would you say that the state of Texas doesn’t want them to fit in? That it doesn’t want them to belong? That they are too different to do what their friends do? Participating in sports is a right of passage in Texas. Friday night lights, cookouts, legacy sports families, and memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Sports participation provides life lessons and promotes shared values that all children should be able to experience: physical health and stress relief, sportsmanship, team-building and camaraderie, goal-setting and self-discipline, leadership, confidence, and belonging. The vast majority of children, including transgender children, are not elite athletes. They just want to play sports for fun, with friends and classmates. They should not be forced to choose between being themselves and playing sports. You can help us ensure kids are not forced to make that choice.

Everyone has a story, an expertise, a personal connection to bills that affect our community. No voice is too small or too removed. We need you. 

What can you do? Make your voice heard!

“It’s hard to hate up close,” said Representative Israel, on the All in for Equality Coalition’s State of LGBTQ+ Equality conversation last Monday with the House LGBTQ+ Caucus. Share your story. Make them see you. Together we can hold the line and protect transgender kids in Texas. 

Week in Review

Last week our community showed up to testify for the first two pro-LGBTQ+ bills of the session, HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin), which would eliminate the gay/trans panic defense, and HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston), which would make sure that transgender Texans are covered by the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act. 

Those two hearings showcased the strength of our community and what happens when you make your voice heard. People shared their lived experiences with attacks motivated by hate, their fears, their love for the state of Texas (even when it doesn’t love us back), and their hopes for their loved ones. Others used their knowledge to give legal analysis of the bills, and dismantle the empty arguments against this important legislation. 

And the legislators heard. Multiple members of the committee pointed out the need to keep the LGBTQ+ community safe, asked genuine questions, and sincerely thanked the witnesses who were able to make it out. 

Policy Briefing: What to Watch Out For

The anti-transgender youth bills, particularly the bans on sports participation, could be heard as early as next Monday, March 29. Senate State Affairs, where SB 29 (Perry, R-Lubbock) and SB 373 (Perry, R-Lubbock) have been referred, meets every Monday morning and we generally only have around 48 hours notice of what bills are on deck. This Monday, we weren’t on the agenda; next Monday we might be. Every week there’s a chance that we’ll have to mobilize our community in record time. 

Anti-Trans Sports Bans: SB 29, SB 373, SB 1458, HB 3455, HB 4042, HB 4043

Anti-Trans Medical Care Bans: HB 68, HB 1399, HB 2693, SB 1646, SB 1311, HB 4014

See ALL OTHER BILLS on our Legislative Tracker.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

State of LGBTQ+ Equality in Texas with House LGBTQ+ Caucus

March 17, 2021 by Debi Jackson
On Monday, March 15th, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez hosted a conversation about the state of LGBTQ+ equality in Texas with the Executive Board Members of the Texas House LGBTQ+ Caucus, who were able to share about themselves as Representatives and their legislative priorities this 87th Legislative Session.
Thank you to our equality partners at TENT, ACLU of Texas, Human Rights Campaign, Texas Freedom Network, and Lambda Legal for expanding our usual Advocacy Week events to a month of virtual programs.

SHARE
Filed Under:  
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 9 Wrap-up: 60 days in, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 80 days to fight

March 12, 2021 by Debi Jackson

As of this morning, 30 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed that directly target our community, and there’s still a full day left of bill filing. To put that in perspective, as of today’s numbers, Texas bills account for almost 30% of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed nationally. 

This is a drastic escalation from our opposition. Last session, only 19 total anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed. This surge of direct legislative attacks only highlights that these bills aren’t being filed to actually solve problems, but to distract from the true emergencies Texans are facing, from the pandemic, to the economic crisis, to fixing the electric grid. 

It is urgently important for all Equality Texan to take action right now to hold the line and protect the humanity and well-being of our community. No action is too big or small. Click here to review all the various ways you can get involved right now.

Today is the deadline to file bills. Next week, we’ll share with you the full picture of what our community is facing in the next few months of session.

NEW & NOTABLE

This Monday, March 15, two pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be the first good bills to get a hearing this session, in the Criminal Jurisprudence committee: HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin), which would eliminate the gay/trans panic defense, and HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston), which would make sure that transgender Texans are covered by the James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Act. 

If you’d like to provide written testimony on these or any other bills, we will ensure it gets to the committee through this portal. If you’re vaccinated and feel safe going to the Capitol, please contact rachel.hill@equalitytexas.org to learn more about how we can support you.

The first anti-LGBTQ+ bill to get a hearing this session was SB 247 (Perry), which would allow someone licensed under the state bar of Texas (like attorneys) to refuse service without disciplinary action to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. Equality Texas was able to coordinate in-person and written testimonies. Thank you to everyone who provided written or in-person testimony on this bill.

BILL FILINGS

Yesterday Representative Jessica González and Senator José Menéndez filed HB 3860 and SB 1540 respectively that introduced new modern legislation that will proactively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law. 

Of the new anti-LGBTQ+ bills filed this week, we saw three bills banning transgender youth participation in sports, two bills banning best-practice life saving medical care for transgender youth, two bills that would endanger local nondiscrimination ordinances, a bill that would allow doctors to refuse medical care based off their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and a bill that would prohibit teachers from talking about inequity or oppression in class. 

The end of bill filing and start of committee hearings means we’ve entered the phase of the legislative session most focused on public input. Now more than ever is the time to get involved in our work at the Capitol. We’ll keep you up to date on which bills are moving so that you can contact your legislators and share your story with written testimony. You can also donate to help increase our capacity to mobilize constituents in key districts as the session heats up. 

No action is too big or small. What will you do to protect LGBTQ+ Texans today?

BILL MOVEMENTS AND NEW IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS

The below pro-LGBTQ+ bills will be heard in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday, March 15 at 2 PM:

HB 73 (Hinojosa, D-Austin)HB 73 would limit the legal defense known as gay/trans panic. This legal defense, which claims that a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression can trigger violence against another person, was debunked by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. 

HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston) –  The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act authorizes enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. The law should be updated to include gender identity and expression. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender women of color, is on the rise. Hate-related homicides spiked 86% in 2017 and in 2019 Texas was tied for the most transgender murders in the nation.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

For Immediate Release: Equality Texas Praises Filing of Nondiscrimination Legislation

March 11, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org

 

Equality Texas Praises Today’s Filing of New Comprehensive Non-Discrimination State Legislation that Modernizes Language and Protections for LGBTQ+ Texans by Vice Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, Representative Jessica González and Senator Jose Menéndez

 

Austin, Texas – March 11, 2021- Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans, today praised the filing of new modern legislation that will pro-actively protect our community and ensure that every single Texan, including LGBTQ+ Texans will be treated equally under Texas law.

This bill would extend non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  The only way to achieve the freedom for LGBTQ people to live, work, earn a living, raise our families, and contribute fully to our communities is to pass a comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination law that protects all people, including LGBTQ people.

Currently, Texas is one of 27 states where there are no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Texans can get married on Sunday and the very next day get kicked out of a restaurant or evicted from their apartment or turned down for a lease because of who they are or who they love. State legislation will guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people.

“Equality Texas has been working with Rep. Jessica González for the last year and a half on a comprehensive non-discrimination bill that will provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing and public spaces. Many Texans are not aware that LGBTQ people can legally refused housing or denied services because of who we are. This is unkind, unfair, inequitable and unacceptable. We are committed to ensure Texas finally lives up to the promise for equality for all,” said Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez.

All Texans — including LGBTQ+ people — should be able to live, work, and access services like banks and medical care without fear of harassment or discrimination. Inequality perpetuates a culture that does not work for Texans.

“The good news is that 70% of Texans – including majorities in both parties and all major religious groups – already support the idea of nondiscrimination protections for their LGBTQ neighbors, coworkers, family members, and friends,” said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas. “Passing a comprehensive nondiscrimination law isn’t just the right thing to do to ensure LGBTQ+ people have the same opportunities to live, earn a living and contribute to their communities. Diversity and inclusion is a 21st century imperative and an economic study by economist Ray Perryman shows embracing equality will drive job creation in Texas and help our economy recover from the pandemic.”

Equality Texas’ top state offensive priority is to pass the comprehensive non-discrimination bill HB 3860 authored by Texas Representative Jessica González and SB 1540 by Senator Jose Menéndez through the Texas Legislature. Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ+ Texans. Opponents of LGBTQ+ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in Texas to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses. The comprehensive non-discrimination law would ensure that all LGBTQ+ Texans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination.

The Perryman study examines the expected economic impacts of a statewide, comprehensive nondiscrimination law covering employment, housing, and public spaces for LGBTQ Texans and visitors. The Perryman Group found that in the first biennium, such a law would create $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenues, and in the 2021-2045 period, it would create 700,000 new jobs, more than $1.3 trillion in gross product, and $130 billion in tax revenues for state and local governments.

Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ+ people, including Texans live in the 27 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws.

 

###

Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 8 Wrap-up: URGENT — Take action to protect trans kids in Texas!

March 6, 2021 by Debi Jackson

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has made banning trans kids from sports one of his legislative priorities. Texas trans kids don’t deserve to be targeted with a mean-spirited bill that only affirms the discriminatory athletic policy that already exists in Texas. Unfortunately, in addition to SB 29 of Patrick’s priority bill list, we are particularly concerned with the House companion bill HB 1458. And we have reason to be worried. Similar bills have been filed in more than two dozen states, and just this week Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina joined North Dakota and South Dakota in advancing their bills.

Earlier this week Representative Swanson sent out a letter to House members asking them to co-sponsor this bill, rife with misinformation about “defend[ing] the equality achieved by women.” This is not what the bill does. This bill opens the door to “bathroom bill”-like invasive physical exams and puts a target on the back of transgender youth and every girl who plays sports. Any child can be accused of not belonging and all accused children will be forced to prove their case.

We must ensure that each and every Representative understands the threat this bill poses to all of us. 

Please send an email to your representative now to let them know that our most vulnerable youth should be protected from discrimination, not used a political pawns for a solution in search of a problem.

To better understand what’s at stake and learn how to talk to your legislator about supporting and affirming trans kids in and out of the classroom, join us Monday for an informative webinar. We know these bills will continue to move during the session and we need as many allies as possible ready to offer testimony.

Issue Briefing: Transgender Sports Bans

March 8, 2021 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

The Texas Legislature is underway and we’ve already seen a priority placed on anti-LGBTQ+ bills. This is an issue briefing on Transgender Sports Ban legislation. Our policy experts will give you an update on the issue and then we will pivot to providing talking points and working together to submit virtual testimony. You can shape the narrative on discriminatory legislation and show that Texans are overwhelmingly opposed to these bills!

 

Bill Movement 

HB 1458 (Swanson, R-Spring) This bill bans trans youth (K-12 and collegiate) from participating in sports, based on the undefined term, “biological sex.” It dangerously leaves the door open for anyone — a coach, fan, or player — to accuse and humiliate any girl of not belonging. The bills could lead to accused children being forced to undergo invasive examinations and other privacy-violating tests. This week, it was referred to the committee on State Affairs.

HB 610 (Swanson, R-Spring) This bill would allow any individual to bring suit against any local law that establishes regulations or requirements for licensed professionals that go beyond state law. Because Texas does not have statewide nondiscrimination protections, all local nondiscrimination ordinances establish requirements beyond state law, and would be a target. This week, it was referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

SB 247 (Perry, R-Lubbock) This bill would allow anyone licensed under the state bar of Texas to refuse service without losing their license to anyone, including the LGBTQ+ community, if that individual violates a “sincerely held religious belief” of the licensee. This week, it was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee and has been scheduled for a hearing Monday, March 8 at 9:00 AM.

HB 1399 (Krause, R-Fort Worth) This bill would discourage doctors from providing best practice transition care by prohibiting professional liability insurance from covering transition related care. This week, it was referred to the House Public Health Committee.

HB 1424 (Oliverson, R-Houston) This bill would allow any medical professional to object to any medical procedure that violates their “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs” even if the procedure in question is live-saving care. This week, it was referred to the House Public Health Committee.

HB 1402 (A. Johnson, D-Houston) The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act authorizes enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. The law should be updated to include gender identity and expression. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender women of color, is on the rise. Hate-related homicides spiked 86% in 2017 and Texas had more deaths than 48 other states. On Friday, it was referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence committee.

 

Don’t forget that between our weekly updates, you can follow the movement of bills we are watching on our Legislative Bill Tracker.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 12 Wrap-up: have you been keeping up with the Lege?

March 4, 2021 by Debi Jackson

This week we kept a close eye on movements in both the Texas Senate and House. As we mentioned in our last update, the Senate State Affairs committee, despite overwhelming opposition in the hearing, voted to move the transgender sports ban, SB 29 (R- Perry) to the next step in the legislative process. We’re now waiting to see when Senator Perry will put it on the Senate Intent Calendar. Once it’s on the Intent Calendar, it will be eligible for debate on the floor.

Ask your Senator to oppose SB 29 now and then record it as video testimony.

Meanwhile in the Texas House, Republican freshman Representative Bryan Slaton has made three separate attempts to add an amendment banning best practice, evidence-based transition care for transgender youth to completely unrelated bills. While explaining his amendment, Representative Slaton spread the same dangerous misinformation about transition care that is in HB 68 (R – Toth) and the five other bans on affirming healthcare filed this session. A big thank you to Representatives Senfronia Thompson, Victoria Neave, and Joe Moody for halting these insidious attacks.

In other issues, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick took aim at businesses who opposed harmful voter suppression bills in the Senate, calling them “corporations who don’t share our values.” He chastised them not only their opposition to SB 7, but also for their actions standing up for transgender Texans during the bathroom bill in 2017. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 70% of Texans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Texans.

 

Week in Review

This week Equality Texas coordinated in-person and written testimony for the following hearings:

 

Bill Movements and New Developments

These are some upcoming opportunities for action:

 

There are fewer than 60 days of session remaining. Thank you for following along every step of the way.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE

Lege Week 7 Wrap-up: Movement in the wrong direction

February 27, 2021 by Debi Jackson

A lot happened in the Texas Legislature this week, and it’s not what most Texans want to see.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced his 2021 legislative priorities. While there are a few needed priorities included, such as reforming the state’s electrical grid, expanding broadband access, and first responders pandemic care, the majority seem to be familiar anti-equality hot buttons that will make his supporters happy at the expense of other Texans.

Texans need access to critical health care. Texans need secure homes and utilities. It’s a shame — but not a surprise — to see Patrick pander to his base rather than prioritize the needs of those most at risk. We’ll keep an eye on these, as the Lt. Governor only shared the names. We’ll wait to see who the authors will be and what the bills fully entail.

Most likely, SB 29 on his list, will be another anti-trans youth sports ban like SB 373 we saw filed by Senator Perry earlier this year.

BILLS ARE MOVING

The Lt. Governor wasn’t the only one focusing on bills that would harm some of our most vulnerable Texans. Several of the most anti-LGBTQ+ bills were assigned to committees this week.

HB 68 (Toth, R-Spring), which would alter the statutory definition of “child abuse” to include affirming, life-saving transition-related health care for trans youth, was referred to the House Public Health Committee. If passed, medical and mental health professionals who offered transition-related support to adolescents and teens could be charged with abuse and face subsequent penalties.

HB 70 (Swanson, R-Spring) would require legislative oversight of agency rules and would increase barriers to any agency in Texas that attempts to bring their practices into alignment with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock to prevent discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It has now been referred to the House State Affairs Committee.

HB 369 (Craddick, R-Midland) would impact those living with HIV and deepen the stigma associated with it, and likely deter people from getting tested or accessing treatment, because the bill would add increased penalties to crimes when a defendant is “afflicted with a communicable disease.” But this bill does not account for a person’s undetectable viral load and similar laws have been shown to disproportionally impact transgender people and people of color. This week, it was referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

We did see two new good bills filed this week. HB 2045 (Lopez, D-San Antonio), which would create a task force and report on the housing needs of LGBTQ+ seniors and HB 2355 (Reynolds, D-Missouri City) which creates a task force to study legal and societal barriers to transgender equality. The bill filing deadline is March 12th.

TAKE ACTION

This week our opponents have put their words into action by tangibly elevating two incredibly harmful issues for transgender youth: banning best practice, life-saving healthcare for transgender adolescents (HB 68Toth R-Spring) and barring transgender youth from sports (SB 29author forthcoming). We need to ensure that all our legislators, particularly the members of the House Public Health Committee, understand the real harms done by this legislation.

Please call or email your legislator and tell them that these are not priority issues for the people of Texas, particularly when we’re still in the midst of a deadly pandemic and recovering from last week’s storm.

If you know any affirming healthcare professionals, faith leaders, or sports fans, please share these sign-on letters so that we can activate our community as these issues unfold. And then ask those people to share the letters with five others to sign. We can show our strength in numbers.

  

There are so many important issues that should be addressed. We cannot let our legislators prioritize riling up their base or making their donors happy at the expense of Texan’s urgent needs. When you attack one Texan, you attack all Texans. And focusing on social issues rather than basic needs is an attack on all Texans.

SHARE
Filed Under:   , , , , ,
ADD YOUR VOICE