A Texas House committee has passed an anti-trans bill, meaning the legislation is one step closer to being voted on in the Texas House. The legislation would prohibit trans student athletes from participating on sports teams that reflect their gender identity.
Before the vote, lawmakers heard from parents of trans children who asked for their children to be respected and allowed to live their lives. The final vote for the bill was down party lines 8-4.
While the restrictions found in the law have previously failed during three legislative sessions this year, H.B. 25 passing the committee on Wednesday increases the chance of the bill becoming law.
Amber Briggle, a mother to a 13-year-old trans boy, testified that she was angry she had to come to the legislature again to fight this bill.
“He’s 13, he shouldn't have to deal with that,” Briggle said. “I want him to go to gymnastics. I want to go to taekwondo. I want him to do well in school, and I don't want to have him worry about this because I saw how much it harmed him in April and May.”
Briggle went on to tell the committee about the increase in calls to suicide hotlines for trans youth. The Trevor Project, the leading national organization in providing cricis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth, said they have received nearly 4,000 crisis calls from trans an nonbinary youth in Texas alone.
“Thankfully, none of these bills have passed, but trans kids are so traumatized that they’re calling a suicide prevention hotline begging for help,” Briggle said, reported The Austin American-Statesman. “The bill’s authors, and all who support this, are responsible.”
“Babies, I see you and love you so much,” she said, looking at her child. “We’re on your side, kids because you’re worth fighting for.”
Previously, lawmakers have introduced other bills targeting trans youth including limiting gender-affirming health care for trans kids and also classifying such care as child abuse.
Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, told MSNBC that the Republican talking points on anti-trans policies are dangerous.
“The facts of the matter are that trans kids are not decimating their cisgender peers in sports,” he said. “That’s not a real thing that’s happening.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas’ policy and advocacy strategist said that the anti-trans youth sports ban only exists to erase trans people from society. “The cruel bill targets an already vulnerable population, who simply want to participate in school athletics as their authentic selves.”
On Instagram, Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, wrote, “Unfortunately, there is a lot of energy to pass the bill right now and we will need to bring all hands on deck for the coming days in this fight.”
“Yesterday’s showing from our side was beautiful,” he added. “Over 150 people testified and probably 100 of them were against the bill. So many amazing young people and their families came out. People drove from across Texas.”
Strangio said that testimony for the bill was “cruel and disturbing,” while the room he and the ACLU team were in was “filled with kids and Halloween decorations and food and laughter and hugs (and masks!).”
Outside of the Texas legislature, protesters with trans and rainbow flags gathered to show opposition to the bill.
“I just wanted to say that there’s been a lot of sad things going on and I would like to say that there’s more people with us than against us,” 10-year-old Kai Shappley told the gathered crowd. “We should stay strong and hopeful and fight this bill head on.”