Snyder, Texas, a town of just over 11,000, is the county seat of Scurry County in the northwest part of the state. It is predominantly white, conservative, and Republican, much like the Texas House District 83 in which it sits. It is also home to Addison Perry-Franks, a 38-year-old transgender woman who wants to unseat incumbent Dustin Burrows and represent the district in Austin.
“I just got tired of Texas not having equality for LGBT people,” Perry-Franks says. “Dustin Burrows was one of the authors of the bathroom bill in 2017.” Burrows took the seat in 2014 and won reelection in 2018 with 77.3 percent of the vote.
“In fact, the bathroom issue was what started me wanting to run for office,” Perry-Frank notes. “I had a problem at a local store that wouldn’t let me use the restroom. I publicized the incident, and the store’s corporate head wound up coming to Snyder to retrain all the employees and make the chain more LGBT-inclusive.”
Perry-Franks publically transitioned in 2018, and says the townsfolk have been pretty supportive, although she has had some problems while campaigning.
“Knocking on doors and talking to people, they’re very friendly,” she says. “But the local media aren’t covering my campaign, and some Lubbock conservative radio shows really went after me. I got hate mail and death threats from that—most of them not even from Texas. But it’s not as much as I thought it would be.”
Perry-Franks also believes her Democratic opponent in the March 3 primary, James Barrick, is only running against her because she is trans. “He won’t even talk to me,” she says.
Her campaign staff consists of herself, her wife, and their children. Perry-Franks met Lacey Franks through a friend of a friend. Both were married at the time, and Perry-Franks had not yet started her transition. After both divorced, they got together and were married 12 years ago.
“In 2018, I almost died in the hospital,” Perry-Franks says. “And I just decided to start living my true life.” When she came out to her wife, she says Franks told her she’d known all along. When Perry-Franks got her official name change, the couple remarried in November of 2018.
Perry-Franks and her wife have five children; each has two from prior marriages, and they had a fifth child together. After her transition, the two youngest children, who still live at home in Snyder, came out as non-binary. Perry-Franks’ coming out made them feel safe to also come out, she says.
Besides equality for all Texans, Perry-Franks is adamant about healthcare access, the local economy, and education.
“Retired teachers in Texas haven’t had a cost-of-living raise in years,” she says. “And we hold fundraisers to help local teachers buy school supplies so they don’t have to pay for them out of their own savings.”
Perry-Franks owns a small computer repair company, so between that and campaigning, she has very little time for anything else. Besides, Lacey Franks is also running for Scurry County Democratic Chair. Although it’s the first time either of them has run for office, they are fortunate to have their children helping out on the campaign trail.
If Perry-Franks isn’t successful in her run for Texas House District 83, she says she will run again—maybe for mayor of Snyder or for a county commissioner seat.
And there’s another project she wants to pick up after the campaign. Both she and her wife have worked in films, and she had three screenplays that were in production before she halted work on them to concentrate on her campaign.
Perry-Franks appeared in Robert Rodriguez’ Alita: Battle Angel under her deadname, and both have appeared on Texas Flip N Move as well as a music video. Perry-Franks says a friend sent her a link to a casting site, and that’s how the film work started. She and her wife travel around Texas to where the work is, since Snyder is not exactly a hotbed of film work.
At the time she started her campaign last year, she had written and begun to shoot three films of her own. One, Equally Friends, is an LBGTQ movie. The second, A Biography of Great Proportions, is about her struggle to fit in to society and her run for the Texas House. The third film, put on hold for the campaign, is more of a lark. It’s a screenplay she wrote called Zombie Traveler, the story of a time-traveling zombie hunter and the man she loves.
For more information about Addison Perry-Franks, visit addison4tx.com.