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Advancing Representation

Harris County Commissioners Court appoints Fairbanks, Stylz to its LGBTQIA+ Commission.

Meghan Fairbanks (l) and Diamond Stylz are the newest members of Harris County’s LGBTQIA+ Commission.

The Harris County Commissioners Court has appointed transgender women Meghan Fairbanks and Diamond Stylz to at-large positions on the County’s newly formed LGBTQIA+ Commission, with the duo pledging to protect and empower Houston’s LGBTQ community.

“We believe that inclusion makes us stronger,” Stylz said. “One of the best ways for residents to be involved and help shape our community’s future is through service on a public board such as this one. I’ve dedicated my career to creating safe spaces for all people through socio-political engagement and education. This is a new opportunity for me to continue that work by pushing our county to a higher standard of community care.”

The LGBTQIA+ Commission was established in 2023 to develop goals and coordinate research for recommended planning, programming, and action relating to the LGBTQ community’s progression and protection of rights in Harris County.

It’s vital to have members of the gay community in advisory positions, and the city is showing its commitment to supporting this demographic, Stylz says.

“This ensures LGBTQIA+ voices are heard and represented in decision making,” she said. “On a practical level, if we advise leaders in one direction and they do something totally different, that’s a clear indication that they don’t value our contribution or our votes.”

Diamond Stylz is no stranger to fighting for trans rights. She started her activism at 17 when she won a First Amendment rights lawsuit against Indianapolis Public Schools in 1999, a victory that allowed her to go to the prom in a gender-affirming gown instead of a tuxedo. She currently is the executive director of Black Trans Women Inc., a national nonprofit that is led by Black trans women focused on social advocacy, positive visibility, and building strong leadership among Black trans advocates, activists, and allies.

Stylz says she’s just trying to do her part in helping Houston reach its full potential as a world-class cosmopolitan city that is safe for all LGBTQ people.

“We are a city with a long history of multicultural diversity with a unique Southern charm,” she said. “I want our healthcare infrastructure and city ordinances to reflect our compassion and ideals as a welcoming city for all residents and visitors, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Meghan Fairbanks supports these thoughts, saying that her journey toward becoming an out-and-proud transgender woman has ignited her passion to better the lives of her transgender peers.

“I came out about five years ago and pretty quickly saw how dire the state of transgender rights is,” she said. “I wanted to get involved to make things better.”

Fairbanks discovered a passion for advocacy and activism in 2021 in response to the anti-LGBTQ legislation. Since then, she has continued to advocate for LGBTQ rights and other social-justice causes. In 2022, she founded Trans & Gender Queer Houston to provide transgender and gender-nonconforming folks with a place to socialize and network outside of the traditional support-group environment. She is also currently a board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and maintains memberships with Houston’s LGBTQ+ Political Caucus and the ACLU. Additionally, she is a graduate of Equality Texas’ Equality Leaders program. 

In the current political climate, Fairbanks said, the freedom to have control over our bodies and life choices is under attack, which makes these kinds of commissions all the more important to help protect citizens.

“We’re currently living in a state where people are literally fleeing this state because they fear for their health care and for their safety,” she said. “They fear their government. We have families that are moving away because they want access to health care for their transgender children. I personally know multiple families that have moved away from Texas because of the passage of SB 14, which banned transition-related care for anyone under the age of 18. Texas just has a bad reputation right now if you’re a trans person. For some reason, the transgender community has a target on their back.”

Despite all the injustice, Stylz said she is still optimistic that change is on the way and better days are ahead for the LGBTQ community.

“I’m a Black trans woman in the South,” she said. “I don’t exist without my ancestors’ hope. My pride doesn’t exist without the LGBTQIA+ pioneers’ hope. Hope is sometimes the only string of solace I have to hold and look forward to. Hope is how I survive.”

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Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
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