More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The advocacy organization, which has been tracking anti-equality legislation for over a decade, notes that Texas has introduced more of these harmful bills than any other state. A majority of our state’s proposed bills attack the rights of transgender children—specifically trans student athletes and any trans youth trying to access gender-affirming medical care.
Dozens of Texans have been advocating against anti-trans bills at the Capitol since the legislative hearings began on March 26, and they plan to continue doing so until the 2021 session concludes on May 31.
OutSmart spoke to five Houston-area families who have traveled to Austin to advocate for themselves and their children.
“As parents of a trans child, we are horrified and scared, and as Texans, we’re deeply ashamed. This legislation attacks the equality of Texans, and it’s wrong. If the healthcare bill were to pass, we would have to leave Texas, because we couldn’t stay somewhere that threatens the rights and freedoms of our child and her gender-affirming medical care. Trans people are who they say they are. They deserve respect and love, and to have all the rights that everyone else has. Our daughter is just like every other kid. We hope the community will contact their legislators to stop these bills.”—Lisa Stanton
“In one word, the proposed legislation is heartbreaking. I don’t think most people know the devastating impact it would have on real people. A recent study shows that approximately 24,000 Texas minors would be in danger of losing access to gender-affirming health care. This legislation is aimed at preventing trans youth from existing. [It tells us we are] not deserving of love and care. Trans youth are youth before they are trans—they are just like all other kids, with hopes and dreams. We just want to exist.”—Landon Richie
“It’s baffling to us that these bills are targeting children, and it’s horrific that children are being used as pawns in a political battle. Even though our children are not minors, these bills call their existence into question, and don’t recognize ‘transgender’ as true or valid. Texas is sending a clear message that they don’t want our children here, which is hurtful.”—Mandy Giles
The Schelling-Segovia Family
“The idea that our legislature is trying to affect so many families is unfathomable. The bills would have an enormous impact, not just on the trans work we do, but on who we are. It would mean that trans folk would have to navigate a world where we face discrimination to a greater extent than we already do. The idea that [lawmakers are] trying to block LGBTQ medical care is unthinkable. Legislators with anti-trans agendas can’t figure us out, but we are still proud to be out, and for the journeys we have taken. The idea that we should be ashamed is despicable.”—Emmett Schelling
“The proposed bills are outrageous. They have shocked me to the core, because I’ve been involved in so many of these fights in the past. The misinformation and level of attacks are astounding. They put my daughter at risk by making trans children targets of people who don’t understand them. Trans people are no different than anyone else—they just want to live their lives fully.”—Anna Eastman
This article appears in the May 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.