This year, Texas lawmakers went crazy with anti-abortion efforts (even introducing Senate Bill 8, the fetal funeral bill, which would require all fetal remains — even material related to abortions or miscarriages — to be buried or cremated, according to Out). It’s part of what Amanda Allen of the Center for Reproductive Rights called, “The most sweeping piece of anti-abortion legislation this session,” according to Buzzfeed. Not to be outdone, Texas lawmakers also targeted the LGBT community with around two dozen new bills — activists say more than at any other time in state history — with the impact on trans youth especially potent. Here are some of the worst:
Trans Bathroom Bill: A bill pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick would ban transgender people from using bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that match their gender identity. It hadn’t passed both houses when the Texas legislature ended its regular session, but Gov. Greg Abbott — who had previously said passing the bill was a legislative priority — called for a special legislative session to address outstanding bills, including the bathroom law and several bills limiting access to abortion. In announcing the special session, Abbott reiterated his support for House Bill 2899, which The Texas Tribune reported would “nix existing municipal and school districts’ trans-inclusive bathroom policies and prevent locals from enacting any new policies.”
According to the Transgender Law Center’s Sasha J. Buchert, the wording of the bill also prevents the adoption of any “order, ordinance, or other measure to protect a class of persons from discrimination or reduce or expand a class of persons protected under state law from discrimination.” That language could prevent the state (and any municipality) from ever adding or expanding LGBT protections.
Adoption: The Texas Senate approved House Bill 3959, which allows adoption agencies to base decisions about child placement on religious beliefs — even if they discriminate against same-sex couples, members of other faiths, or single parents, Newsweek reported. Abbott quickly signed the bill into law. The Houston Chronicle reported Texas has a backlog of about 3,800 children eligible for adoption, and the state is housing some in government buildings because of a shortage of homes. According to a statement by Human Rights Campaign, the new law also prevents the state from canceling contracts with agencies that subject children “to dangerous practices such as so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”
Transgender Athletes: Senate Bill 2095 would prohibit transgender athletes from participating in high school sports if they are on doctor-prescribed hormone therapy, The Texas Tribune reported. The bill came after Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old trans boy, won a Texas state girls’ wrestling championship while taking testosterone. Still listed as female on his birth certificate, he was barred from participating in boys’s sports. “Most trans athletes don’t have immediate access to have their birth certificates changed appropriately,” Democratic Sen. Sylvia Garcia told the Tribune. The bill was left pending in a House committee when the regular legislative session ended, according to Legiscan.
Same-Sex Marriage: Another bill would allow county clerks and judges to opt out of approving marriage licenses if they claim that marrying a couple goes against “a sincerely held religious belief.” These couples (whether they’re same-sex, interracial, or of different faiths) could have someone else fulfill the legal processes necessary to be legally married. The Texas Senate approved the bill, but the regular session ended prior to the House vote; it’s unclear if it will be considered during this or a later special session.
Reporting by Daniel Reynolds, Lucas Grindley, and Trudy Ring
Artist Bryan Hoffman, 57, says his six-year series — of which this image (above), T-Girl #10, is a part — stemmed from his work with at-risk and homeless youth (in particular trans youth) in Detroit. We thought it a fitting reminder of whom bathroom bills like these really target. Hoffman’s artist statement says, “Many, but not all, of these young people have to rely on survival sex for food and housing. A few have escaped the life and pursued an education, but many have not. Not because they don’t want something better but rather because it is just out of reach. The intersection of race, poverty, and identity are powerful, and sometimes, just a mountain too high. They have been an enormous inspiration to me and are the catalyst for my current work.” The rest of his series can be seen at VisualAIDS.org.