Houston, Texas – Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBT Texans, today joined parents of transgender students and transgender adults who are speaking out for the first time about fears about their safety and fears about discriminatory legislation following the presidential election and statements made by the Lt. Governor to pass a controversial bathroom bill during the upcoming legislative session.
“Transgender Texans across the state are in fear for their safety because of the false rhetoric perpetrated by the lt. governor to incite fear in the minds of Texans who have never met a transgender person. These fear tactics and false rhetoric have real consequences,” said Lou Weaver, Transgender Programs Coordinator for Equality Texas.
Today, families who were leading their private lives quietly and peacefully – now feel compelled to speak out to protect the safety of their children. Forcing transgender children to go to the bathroom based on their birth certificate will put them in danger. Today, Equality Texas released a new video that shows the anxiety and danger for transgender children and adults when dangerous rhetoric is thrown around to rile people up for political reasons.
Texans Ken and Melissa Ballard know the dangers firsthand. Their child, a 14-year-old transgender boy Ashur, has attempted suicide twice while coming to terms with being transgender and the anxiety about telling his parents and being accepted. He is now living his authentic self and his parents love him unconditionally, but it has been a difficult journey.
Ashur’s father Ken Ballard says, “I would rather have my son be alive than bury my daughter.” Ken found a suicide note while Ashur was on suicide watch at a local hospital and reading that letter forever changed his life. He accepted his child as being a transgender boy and as a parent has given him the unconditional love every child deserves. His wife Melissa says Ashur is a wonderful child and she wants other parents to know the real dangers about isolating transgender children because it puts their lives in danger, including her own son.
Some state leaders continue to minimize the number of transgender children in Texas and across the nation. There are an estimated 1.4 million Americans who are transgender. The suicide rate among transgender children is 41 percent, an alarmingly high rate.
“Do we as Texans really want to put the life of any child in our state at risk of suicide and bullying? The lt. governor should stop targeting the most vulnerable segment of the population- transgender kids and focus on the well-being of all students, including transgender students,” said Ann Elder, mom of a transgender boy from the Houston area. “Transgender Texans, and in particular transgender kids, must be afforded the most basic dignity to use the bathroom. Texas does not need or want legislation that harms transgender students who have done nothing wrong.”
“The Montrose Center welcomes everyone and that includes members of our transgender community. We are no strangers to the advocacy for equality and the fight to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people. I can only hope that our work here at the Center has a fundamental impact on the erasure of anti-transgender violence,” said Ann Robison, Executive Director.
“We did not start this fight. I am upset that I have to speak out and risk my own safety. I would rather live my life in the privacy of my community, but the lt. governor has chosen to make me a target and I am going to speak out to protect transgender adults and transgender children,” said Barby Ledesma, a Houston area transgender woman.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the first nationally representative study on the health risks and adverse health outcomes among LGBTQ students in high school. The study of 1.3 million students showed that LGBTQ youth are at a far greater risk for suicide, depression, bullying and rape, and calls for an “accelerated action to protect their health and well-being.” http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/smy.htm
Earlier this year, a letter signed by national organizations representing almost 5 million educators, pediatricians, counselors and other child welfare providers urged public officials like AG Paxton to stop their political attacks on transgender youth. These organizations include the American Federation of Teachers, the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Education Association. http://bit.ly/2aQyXUA.
Broadcast Quality HD Video- https://vimeo.com/191854444