Patrick Hanley | Public Policy and Advocacy Lead | May 26, 2021
If you’re a newcomer to Texas, you might have been scratching your head these last few months as transgender youth have been splashed all over the headlines. Forget COVID, the winter storm, energy crisis, redistricting and a budget shortfall, if Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s priority agenda was to be believed, trans youth simply being themselves was one of the biggest issues facing Texas during this year’s Texas Legislative Session.
As the session reached a boil in mid-March, we were facing more than 30 anti-LGBTQ bills – a new record. The cruelest of the lot were those that would have ended critical, life-saving transition care for trans youth or expanded discriminatory rules on participation in school sports. Thankfully, due to monthsof tremendous outcry from our communities and allies across the state, the last of those bills died last night after it narrowly missed a midnight deadline.
Score check: one for trans youth, zero for our Lt. Governor.
The past few legislative sessions have been filled with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric – and this year’s session was a return to to 2017’s “Bathroom Bill” debacle. We saw even more creative legislation this year: bills that would have given professionals such as doctors, lawyers, counselors and more a “license to discriminate” by exempting them from local non-discrimination laws. We also saw bills that would have given medical professionals the right to refuse any procedure based on religous belief, even critical emergency room care.
Instead of trusting that our state leaders would not advance these harmful measures, LGBTQ allies had to fight every step of the way. Some of the key battles included:
- SB 29: Would have codified and expanded discriminatory rules for participation in school sports.
- Status: Died on the House floor last night when the clock ran out.
- HB 1399: Would have eliminated affirming, transition-related medical care for transgender youth.
- Status: Died on the House floor last week when the clock ran out.
- SB 247: Would have given those licensed by the State Bar of Texas the ability to ignore non-discrimination protections.
- Status: Died in House Committee this week after it failed to advance.
- SB 1646: Would have deemed affirming transition care as child abuse under state statute.
- Status: Passed the Senate but died in House Committee earlier this month.
- SB 1311: Another bill that would have eliminated affirming health care for trans youth.
- Status: Passed the Senate but died in House Committee over the weekend.
Shall I go on?
The threat is not over! We are still on guard for amendments that could pop up in the final days of the session. As we look to at least one more special session this year, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has already reissued his calls to attack transgender youth. Rest assured, this will not the be last time we are forced to fight for our communities.
We at Resource Center are so grateful for all who took part in our calls to action this session. We look forward to a brighter day when the fundamental rights and dignities of our community are not up for debate in Austin.