During its most recent legislative session, the Texas legislature tried to pass three different bills limiting transgender people’s access to public bathrooms. However, all three controversial bills died last night after the Texas House adjourned its special legislative session. But despite the victory for transgender Texans and allies, similar bills could certainly arise in future legislative sessions.
What anti-transgender laws were being considered in Texas?
Texas Senate Bill 3 would have required public and charter schools to only allow trans people to use bathrooms, showers and changing facilities matching the sex listed on their birth certificates.
Texas Senate Bill 6 would have banned cities from passing any public accommodation ordinances requiring businesses to let trans people use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.
Texas Senate Bill 91 would have barred any cities or school districts from passing ordinances allowing trans people to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.
While Texas doesn’t require its trans citizens to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to get a new birth certificate reflecting their gender identity, the process still requires time and money that not all trans people have.
Why did Texas’ anti-transgender bills fail?
Texas Governor Greg Abbott had hoped to pass the bills during the normal legislative session, but even though they passed the Senate, Republican House Speaker Joe Straus strongly opposed them for business and personal reasons. Straus refused to give the bills a hearing in the House.
Straus and other state businessmen worried that the transphobic bills would lose Texas millions in business revenue. Texas had already lost a reported $66 million for even considering the bills in the first place.
In response, The Texas Association of Business — a coalition of multi-national corporations and small businesses throughout the state — began airing radio ads (including one that incorporated Texas’ pro football team, the Dallas Cowboys) highlighting the business that Texas could lose if they passed the law.
After being pressured by the state’s conservative Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to pass one of the transphobic bills, Straus reportedly said, “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”
Abbott eventually pared down his hopes to passing a single bill limiting the ability of cities to pass transgender public accommodation protections, but even those ambitions failed when the House legislative session ended last night.
Is the age of transphobic bathroom bills coming to an end?
In a public statement, Acting Freedom for All Americans CEO Kasey Suffredini said:
“We saw unprecedented opposition to this legislation — not just from businesses concerned about the economic implications of these proposals, but from conservatives who abhor discrimination; from faith leaders who were steadfast in calling out inequality; from families of transgender Texans who demonstrated incredible bravery in sharing their personal stories. Defeating bills like this in Texas sends a strong message to other state legislatures that mean-spirited, discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ proposals are non-starters.”
Featured image by franckreporter via iStock Photography