For the fourth time this year, Texas Republicans in the state legislature are trying to ban trans youth from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
Instead of testifying at a Senate committee hearing over Senate Bill 3 on Tuesday, trans children and their families will be rallying at the Capitol at noon, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Texas announced.
Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas Ricardo Martinez said they cannot ask trans Texans and families to participate in the political theatre of the Texas Senate.
“We have watched the immediate effects of trauma manifest in our advocates as a result of their participation in Senate hearings this year,” Martinez said. “Numbness, detachment, anxiety, fear, sadness, restlessness, and despair have been commonly experienced by LGBTQ+ community members who have testified during this year’s Senate hearings.”
“These feelings are a direct result of the invasive questions and manipulative tactics used by committee members and the bullying of anti-LGBTQ+ activists,” he said.
Martinez said witnesses who testified at the hearings were treated cruelly by Republican lawmakers, including asking children about their genitals or abruptly dismissing witnesses and talking over them.
The continued debate over the humanity of trans people has led to an increase in worrisome incidents being reported to Equality Texas, the group said. One middle schooler who recently moved to Austin attempted to take her life after being bullied by classmates. The group said a Wichita Falls Independent School District high school was reported to have pressured teachers into turning over the names of students who wished to use different names or pronouns than those listed in their enrollment forms.
“These debates have perpetuated divisiveness, fortified a culture of discrimination, and placed a target on the backs of marginalized communities,” Martinez said. “We will have no part in another one.”
Texas Republicans, especially bill author Sen. Charles Perry, have made it clear the motivation behind the bills is nothing short of religious extremism. “We don’t have the right to be God when it comes to creation,” Perry said when stumping for the bill during the regular session. “We are a sinful state and we are reaping the consequences of it.”
This third special session, Republicans have filed several other anti-LGBTQ bills besides Senate Bill 3 (and its House version, HB 10 carried by Rep. Valoree Swanson).
Republicans are also attempting to ban affirming and age-appropriate healthcare for transgender youth. Rep. Perry and Rep. Bryan Slaton have once again filed a bill to criminalize transgender child care, classifying it as child abuse for parents and doctors.
Another bill by Perry would require a person’s sex on a birth certificate and would prevent minors from amending it.