Texas Republicans have tried over and over to force anti-trans student-athlete bills through the House, only to fall short of their goal. There have been three prior attempts to move bills like this forward. Rep. Valoree Swanson, who authored HB25, was gloating over her near-victory by the time lawmakers were set to vote. There wasn’t a happier politician in the House chambers once the special session had concluded.
Throughout the day, Swanson made it clear she was focused on pushing through HB25 at all costs. She talked over fellow lawmakers and activists and had conversations with others as she was being questioned about the bill. Frequently, Rep. Erin Zweiner stopped in the middle of her remarks to call out Swanson for not paying attention.
Swanson did little to hide her transphobia, making a point of refusing to use the terms “cisgender” and “transgender,” instead choosing to use discriminatory phrases like “biological male” and “biological female.” Swanson even bragged about her own experience as a cisgender woman, notably when being questioned by Rep. James Talarico.
The process of amending a birth certificate in Texas is lengthy, costly, and can be a bit of a gamble depending on the county judge granting the request. Swanson and other lawmakers effectively shut the door on even that possibility for trans children by passing amendments that prevent modified or updated birth certificates from being used to determine which team a child should join when enrolled in sports.
Talarico was among a handful of representatives who appeared to mine their own trauma and share deeply personal stories in an attempt to defeat HB25. Rep. Ann Johnson described her experience growing up as a lesbian and her fears of coming out. Activists and even children have testified about the damage HB25 will do to kids in Texas, but Swanson and her ilk refused to listen.
They also made a point of shooting down amendments meant to help trans children. An amendment requiring mental health services for trans children failed, as did an amendment exempting trans children with mental health issues from HB25’s restrictive policies.
The Texas Senate has until Tuesday night to decide the fate of HB25. Gov. Greg Abbott has already signaled his support and plans to sign the bill once it hits his desk.
The Equality Act could undo harmful policies like HB25, as it prevents discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth in any school that receives federal funding. One of the biggest barriers to the Equality Act’s passage is the filibuster, which Republicans have used to stymy progressive legislation. Call on lawmakers to do the right thing and end the filibuster.