On Monday of last week, I published a post regarding anti-transgender bathroom legislation in North Carolina and Texas. This post is an update on the Texas legislation, which had a hearing in the state House of Representatives last Wednesday, April 19th.
The Texas bill, HB 2899, is the prejudiced brain-child of Rep. Ron Simmons of Carrolton, Texas. Here is a recap of the impact of the bill from my post last Monday.
HB2899 is a one-page piece of legislation that would bar attempts by cities and counties to pass non-discrimination ordinances adding groups not already covered by state law. The bill would also nullify any preexisting local non-discrimination measures not in-line with state law. While it does not state specific measures against any group of the LGBT+ spectrum, LGBT+ groups are the only major minority not currently covered by Texas state law
If put into effect, this bill would impact major cities across Texas, which have mostly adopted legislation in their city code protecting LGBT+ citizens. This is not the first piece of anti-transgender legislation from Texas congressmen. In March, the Texas Senate approved a bill forcing transgender students to use the bathroom of their “biological” gender. So far, the House has refused a vote on this legislation, presumably in order to pass this more vaguely discriminatory legislation.
The hearing took place Wednesday night at 11:40pm in front of the House State Affairs Committee and lasted until 4:30am Thursday night. It was the last piece of legislation on the floor in a marathon session that lasted a total of 19 hours. 72 of a scheduled 120 testimonies were given before the panel. The majority of those testimonies were negative, with those in opposition ranging from the mayors of several major Texas cities (San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin), Emmett Schelling (a transgender man and the president of the San Antonio Gender Association), Jess Herbst (a transgender woman and the mayor of New Hope, Texas), and Frank and Rachel Gonzalez (parents of a 7 year-old transgender child). Texas Pastor’s Council president David Welch was one of the few people who spoke in favor of the bill.
At the end of the hearing, 95% of the 389 people who registered an opinion on HB2899 voted in opposition to the bill. The hearing did not hold an official vote on the measure, and the legislation is still pending as of today.