"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."
Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
Kenne McFadden: 27-year-old transgender woman murdered in San Antonio, Texas on April 9th, 2017.
Veronica Banks Cano: transgender woman found deceased in a South Side Motel on February 19th, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.
These are the faces of the unjust inequality that is so prominent in Texas. Each of these individuals had the right to Life, the right to Liberty, and the right to Happiness. Those virtues were stripped from them by transphobic and hateful individuals. Every person should feel safe and happy to be themselves in any situation. Unfortunately, for many people in the LGBTQ community, that is not the reality.
In Texas, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are not represented by their state government at all. In fact, they are directly attacked by law-makers and employers. Interestingly enough, the "trans population of Texas is the second largest in the U.S." according to a survey published by Project Q Houston in June of 2016. This census also declares that 125,350 adults in Texas self-identify as being transgender.
(See the full article: http://www.projectq.us/houston/trans_population_in_texas_second_biggest_in_u.s)
On January 26th, 2017, The National Center for Transgender Equality released information from a survey that was conducted in 2015. Surveyors interviewed 1,490 Trans-Texans and made some startling discoveries about the general well-being of these individuals. Here are some of the final responses:
17% were unemployed. (>253 respondents)
34% were living at or below poverty level. (>506 respondents)
13% were verbally harassed in the workplace. (>193 respondents)
3% were sexually assaulted in the workplace. (>44 respondents)
9% were verbally, physically, or sexually assaulted on their college campus. (>134 respondents)
22% had been evicted due to their gender identity. (>327 respondents)
30% had experienced homelessness due to their gender identity. (>447 respondents)
9% had been denied access to a public restroom. (>134 respondents)
10% had been harassed in a public restroom. (149 respondents)
1% had been physically attacked in a public restroom. (>14 respondents)
1% had been sexually assaulted in a public restroom. (>14 respondents)
61% would avoid using a public restroom. (894 respondents)
(See the full survey: http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/USTS-Full-Report-FINAL.PDF)
These are such harrowing statistics. Looking at these numbers, it is difficult to imagine why any transgender person would stay in Texas and not move to a more progressive, safe space such as Oregon or California. For many trans-people, Texas is home. This is where they were born and where their family and friends reside. Now more than ever, it is important for everyone to stand together to defeat legislation proposed by Texas law-makers that would further dehumanize the LGBTQ community.
Some new anti-trans bills that are currently under legislation are HB 3859 and SB 2078. "HB 3859 allows faith-based child welfare providers to use taxpayer money to refuse service to LGBTQ people..." says Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas in a recently published interview, and "SB 2078 allows for continued discrimination against students with regard to restroom facilities".
Rebecca L. Robertson, Legal and Policy Director of the ACLU of Texas, in an interview for Equality Texas, states: "Since they gaveled the session open in January, Texas lawmakers have relentlessly pursued a cynical agenda that targets immigrants, women, and lesbian, gay, and transgender Texans for discrimination".
What can we do to help?
Moving towards equality in Texas will prove to be no easy feat, but it is certainly worth the fight. Lawmakers are currently in session to discuss HB 3859, SB 2078, and many other unjust anti-trans bills that WILL become laws if we do not let our representatives know that what they are doing is cruel and unusual. Show up! Speak Up! Call your representatives! Stand up for what YOU know is right. This legislation instills unreasonable fear in cisgender people. That fear becomes transphobia, causing hysteria in Texas communities and ultimately leading to unjust homicides and assault. Let's make Texas a safe space for all people. If you are unable to lobby alongside The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas, here are a few links to pledge against and petition the bills that are currently being discussed: