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Texas Lawmakers Seek to Expand Hate Crimes Law to Include Gender Identity

HB 1513 would impose stiffer penalties for crimes committed due to bias against transgender victims.

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LGBTQ-affirming Texas lawmakers and activists gathered at the capitol to introduce HB 1513 on Monday.

Five State representatives authored a bill that would add transgender status to a list of identities protected under the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act.

Representatives Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas), Junie Johnson (D-Carrollton), Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), and Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) co-authored HB 1513 and introduced the bill during a press conference on Monday.

HB 1513, which expands on the 2001 James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, would allow trial courts to impose harsher penalties for crimes committed due to one’s real or perceived gender identity, in addition to protections that already include race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age, and national origin.

Rep. Garnet Coleman

“There is no reason to not have transgender [protections listed] in the Hate Crimes Act,” Coleman said during the press conference, “or any other barriers to transgender Texans.”

Coleman has filed the same pro-equality bill seven times over the last decade. He is determined to pass HB 1513 this session.

“People have a better understanding of transgender Texans than before,” Coleman said.

To introduce HB 1513 during Monday’s press conference, Coleman was joined by his co-authors and several other lawmakers who support the bill.

Houston-based trans rights activist Monica Roberts, who was invited to attend the press conference, noted that out of the 25 reported lives lost in 2018 due to anti-transgender violence, 22 were black and Latinx.  

Monica Roberts

“It’s past time that the 1.4 million transgender Texans were added to the Byrd Hate Crimes Act,” Roberts said. “I thank all you legislators and members of the Caucus and Chairman Coleman for your efforts to do precisely that.”

Following the press conference, a hearing for HB 1513 was conducted by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. A decision on advancing the bill has not yet been announced.

Watch the press conference introducing HB 1513 here: http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=17340

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is the managing editor of OutSmart magazine.

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