About 200 activists, transgender youth, and their parents rallied on the Capitol steps in Austin April 28 to protest the spate of bills pushing through the Texas Legislature that target trans youth.
Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas, led his advocacy group in organizing the rally.
Martinez notes that the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the nation is not an accident. “It is a coordinated effort that we are seeing [nationwide]. The [bills being filed] are almost identical, regardless of what state legislature you are looking at. It’s cruel, it’s unnecessary, and it’s a waste of time when we have actual emergencies.”
Multiple medical-care bans would criminalize or otherwise ban age-appropriate, evidence-based, private, lifesaving care for transgender youth. Some of these bills would enable the state to take children away from their families, and take licenses away from the physicians who treat them. All of these bills are opposed by every credible medical association, including the American Medical Association. That group issued a call to governors to oppose these bills in every state where they are being proposed. In Texas, these include HB 68, HB 1399, HB 2693/SB 1311, and HB 4014/SB 1646.
There are also a number of bills that propose banning transgender girls from participating on sports teams, thereby denying them the friendships, teamwork, and health benefits of sports. These include HB 1458, HB 3455, HB 4042/SB 29, HB 4043, and SB 373. In all, there are some 30 anti-LGBTQ bills circulating in the current legislative session in Austin.
“The Legislature tries to frame this as protecting women in sports,” says Tina Cannon, president and CEO of the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “If they [really wanted] to protect women’s sports, they could pass a bill that requires equal pay.”
Harris County Commissioners Court passed a resolution in support of transgender children on April 27. The resolution, sponsored by County Judge Lina Hidalgo, passed 3 to 2, along party lines. It states that the Commissioners Court opposes anti-transgender bills that harm trans children, and will uphold the diversity and inclusivity of the County.
“We had a big contingent from Houston—a lot of Houston families were there,” notes Angela Hale of Equality Texas. State representatives Ann Johnson and Gene Wu also spoke against the bills.”
Just hours after the Austin rally began, President Biden, in his first joint address to Congress, said, “To all the transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people who are so brave, I want you to know that the president has your back.”
But in Texas, the LGBTQ community still has a fight on its hands.
“This session has had more hateful legislation that’s made it further than ever before,” Cannon emphasizes. “This should be making national news, and it’s not.”
“I’m hopeful that with the help of our community, we can defeat these bills once again,” Hale adds.
For more information on Equality Texas, visit equalitytexas.org.