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Bills targeting LGBTQ Texans are back in 2023. Advocates say they're ready

Demonstrators hold signs advocating for trans rights outside.
Sheryl Wong
Demonstrators rally to show support for the transgender community at the Texas Capitol on April 2, 2022.

The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) will host a trans advocacy day in Austin to discuss bills affecting trans health care, trans youth participation in sports, and education.

For resources and support, call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

Texas lawmakers have so far filed more than 90 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the 2023 legislative session, with many of the bills targeting trans youth access to gender-affirming care, according to Equality Texas’s legislative bill tracker.

Both Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton targeted trans youth and their families last year after similar bills failed to pass in the 2021 legislative session. The Texas Department of Family and Protective services has been investigating parents providing gender-affirming care to their children, prompting some families to leave the state.

Andrea Segovia, senior field and policy advisor for the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), said all these bills share the same underlying idea.

“What you see as the theme of these bills is the erasure of trans people from the public eye, from existence,” she said. “It is that dire of a space that we’re in.”

She’s been monitoring similar bills in other states, like Florida and Oklahoma, as a predictor of what could happen in Texas.

But it’s still early in the session, and she says many of these bills were defeated in 2021. Of the more than 70 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 2021, only House Bill 25, which banned trans students from competing in sports that aligned with their gender identity, was passed into law.

Similar bills this year, including HB 23, HB 262, SB 649 and SB 1082, would ban trans youth from even participating in sports in school, and extend that ban to college.

“We need as many allies as we can to fight back alongside trans people, and say we’re not going to stand for this,” she said. “This isn’t our state. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t what we believe.”

TENT and other groups will gather at the capitol Wednesday in support of LGBTQ Texans, and to speak with lawmakers face-to-face about the potential impact of the legislation. The Trans Advocacy Day includes a training session in the morning, and a rally later in the afternoon.

Rachel Hill, the government affairs director for Equality Texas, said that’s how change happens.

“Trans Texans are Texans, too,” she said. “There’s nothing scary about them. It’s important for lawmakers to look people in the eye and remember that.”

Hill said she understands that seeing the sheer number of bills targeting all aspects of LGBTQ+ life can be overwhelming, but encourages trans people and allies to not lose hope.

“The fear is the point,” she said. “It’s to scare us into submission. And as long as you are fighting, and as long as you are still seeking out your truth, that’s what winning is right now: not being silenced.”

Email with questions and tips. You can follow Elena on Twitter @elenaiswriting.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Elena Rivera is the health reporter at KERA. Before moving to Dallas, Elena covered health in Southern Colorado for KRCC and Colorado Public Radio. Her stories covered pandemic mental health support, rural community health access issues and vaccine equity across the region.