This week’s legislative update will be a little more personal as the last few days have been incredibly hard on our community. The State Legislature is in an all out assault on LGBTQ+ Texans. This week alone, 9 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have moved in the House and the Senate, and that’s not even including another anti-transgender amendment attempt on the House floor.
This is an incredible weight for our community to carry, particularly our most marginalized transgender youth. This week we have seen legislators turn people away from testifying, adult hecklers harass 10-year-olds, and committee members refuse to even wait for public comment to close before moving harmful bills forward.
Take action to stand by all those who were at the Capitol this week. We need voices, advocacy, and financial resources to fight this unprecedented assault on our rights.
Despite this, we have also seen beautiful moments — parents and their kids standing together in love at the dais, individuals yielding their time to speak so that affirming medical practitioners could set the record straight, and light, laughter, and community as we waited for bills to be heard.
SB 29 (Perry) – This bill categorically bans transgender youth from participating in sports in line with their gender identity. It passed the Senate and is now headed to the House.
HB 4042 (Hefner) has been set for a hearing in the House Public Education committee this Tuesday, 4/20 starting at 8 AM. This bill is identical to SB 29, which means that if it gets to the House floor it does not have to go through the process in the Senate. HB 4042 (Hefner) and SB 29 (Perry) can essentially “meet in the middle.” It’s imperative that we stop this bill before it gets to the House floor. Sign up here to testify in person.
*If you are burnt out from the marathon hearings of this week, please take care of yourself. We could not do this work without your eloquence, your heart, and your unflagging support of our community. If you don’t have capacity to come to the Capitol, but would like to still share your voice with the committee, please email a copy of what you would like to say to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have an ally read your testimony aloud.
If you are an ally who does not have a personal story to share but would like to step up — this is the way to do so. Sign up to testify and amplify the voice of a community member before the committee.
HB 1399 (Krause) – This bill would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing best-practice, life-saving care for transgender youth. It was voted favorably out of the House Public Health Committee. This means that the bill is now headed towards the House Calendars committee to be set for a date.
HB 610 (Swanson) – This bill creates a mechanism for any licensed professional to sue a city to take down local ordinances, including nondiscrimination laws. It was voted favorably out of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee. It’s now headed to the Calendars committee.
HB 3940 (Cain) – This bill allows 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. It was voted favorably out of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee and is now headed to the Calendars committee.
HB 369 (Craddick) – This bill adds increased penalties to crimes when a defendant is “afflicted with a communicable disease.” It would impact those living with HIV and deepen the stigma associated with it, and likely deter people from getting tested or accessing treatment. 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. It was heard last Monday and has not been scheduled for a vote.
SB 1646 (Perry) – This bill adds the administering or supplying of life-saving transition-related health care, as directed by medical or mental health professionals, to the statutorial definition of “child abuse,” including related penalties. This bill targets anyone involved in transition-related care, including parents and guardians. It was heard last Monday and has not been scheduled for a vote.
SB 1311 (Hall) – This bill prohibits a physician or other health care provider from performing affirming and life-saving transition-related care for minors and would punish any doctor who did provide best-practice transition care by revoking their license to practice. Additionally, the bill would prohibit professional liability insurance from covering transition-related care. It was added to Monday’s Senate hearings at the last minute. It has not been scheduled for a vote.
The sheer number of bills moving at once makes it difficult to address every single legislator who has input on these bills. That’s why we’re directing calls and emails to the Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan. Speaker Phelan has the power to stop these bills before they get any closer to becoming law.
If you cannot go to the Capitol to testify in person on Tuesday for HB 4042, you can do any of the following:
This is the moment to take action. If you have not yet gotten involved this session, we need your voice. Do it so that the kids who will be most affected by this legislation don’t have to.
On Wednesday, after 17 hours at the Texas Capitol, I sat in my car a little longer than usual, and then I cried all the way home — from the office to my apartment. The next morning, I stayed in the shower a little later than I typically do. The warmth of the water was healing, and so I stood there processing what occurred at the Capitol. I practice silence and stillness when I’m overwhelmed.
Community members, advocates, parents, and kids waited from 8AM to 10PM to testify. People traveled for hours to get to the Capitol, assumed great risk by participating during a pandemic, spent money on gas, booked hotel rooms, took a day off of work — and the committee capped testimony for each bill at two hours. In addition, anti-LGBTQ+ advocates who came to the Capitol under the guise of protecting children, were heckling families and calling them names during a press conference. It takes so much courage, effort and anguish to stand proudly, honestly, and authentically in face of such opposition. These families, advocates, and kids are at the front lines of this fight as guardians of our rights. But they can’t do it alone — the weight of it all is immense and traumatic. They should not be doing the heavy lifting on their own.
In honor of these families — for everyone assuming great risk by participating in the democratic process in-person during a pandemic — I ask you to do your part. Show up, write testimony, uplift stories.
Your support needs to be louder. This moment calls for it. With action.
Call Speaker Phelan today and tell him to halt the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the Texas House, particularly HB 4042 (Hefner) and HB 1399 (Krause).