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Personal Essay: The Testimony I Should Have Given
Posted on May 19, 2019 at 11:20 am
Lou Weaver and others feel the loss of the HERO vote in Houston, November 2015

November 3, 2015

Let me start by saying…I hate this photo. It was taken without my knowledge or my permission the night the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance failed at the ballot box.

I will never forget that night or the three months that followed. Standing at Jackson Street Barbecue as we watched the returns on my friend’s laptop, seeing the lopsided numbers come in. “We are ok,” we told each other. “These are outlying districts,” we said over and over again in complete denial.

It wasn’t until Mayor Parker started speaking and I heard the words coming out of her mouth that I would believe we had lost. This was a long battle — one that many people had worked on for months — pouring their hearts and souls into a campaign that should have been about protecting all of us. But instead, it was turned into a 5-word bumper sticker: “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms”.

That night my heart broke. My city failed to protect me. My neighbors saw my community as dangerous.

I didn’t know how bad I felt until January of the following year. Two full months later, while at a conference out of state, someone asked how I was. I replied, “Fine, it is ok.” His reply hit me. “It’s ok if it isn’t.”

My eyes teared up and I felt the force of everything I had been holding back. I had been living with an emotional hangover for over 60 days and didn’t know it.

March 7, 2017

SB6, a Texas Senate bill known as the ‘bathroom bill’, came up for testimony in the Senate State Affairs Committee. I personally spent 22.5 hours at the Capitol that day, as did many other trans and nonbinary people and our allies.

SB6 was bad, but it was also the unofficial kick-off to a legislative session filled with 26 anti-LGBTQ+ bills brought by our elected officials over the next few months.

Our community showed up time and time again — literally begging elected officials to see the trans community as Texas residents worthy of respect —  through 140 days of the regular session and then an additional 30 days of a “special session.” That Special Session was called specifically to shove the Bathroom Bill over the finish line, and people from all across the state showed up to share their stories.

This time we won. The Texas Senate failed to advance their discriminatory agenda. I didn’t bawl at the end of the Special Session, but maybe I should have. It wasn’t until early December of 2017 that I came out of that emotional hangover. Each time it gets worse.

May 14, 2019

This legislative session has brought more of the same: hours of sitting in hearings, hours of testifying. You see, every time I have to go and listen to people — including people elected to protect all Texans — talk about how I am a danger or not worthy of the same equality as my neighbors, I feel it. I feel it deeply and to my core. I listen to other LGBTQ+ people lay it all out there, and I feel their hurt and their pain. It is my job, literally, to help them through the process of giving testimony and talking to their Senators and Representatives.

I am a lucky person. I have a job. I have an apartment. And most of all, I have an amazing support system.

We are now 13 days away from Sine Die. I am trying my best to stay focused and keep moving forward for myself and my community. But all of you on the other side of the table need to know how much damage you are causing to queer Texans.

I am a human. I have feelings; I have worth. My existence should not be political fodder for anyone. My mental and emotional well-being is on the line as it is for many others in my community.

Lou Weaver, Equality Texas Transgender Programs Coordinator