The Lege remains in session, so the fight continues

Posted on 26 May 2017 at 7:45am

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Leslie McMurraySunday morning I usually wake up slowly and then enjoy a cup of coffee, maybe sitting on the patio with Katie, watching my border collies play.

But this past Sunday (May 21) was different: I checked my email and saw urgent requests from Equality Texas to reach out to my representative in Austin to try and stop an odious amendment that had been tacked on to a necessary piece of legislation. The original bill was designed to have schools enact an emergency preparedness plan. The extraneous and utterly hateful amendment would target transgender kids and their ability to use appropriate restrooms at school.

It was a nightmare; not at all how I want to spend my Sunday.

But I did it anyway. I wrote messages. I tweeted. I begged. I cajoled. And I appealed to logic, citing the 12-year history of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has had transgender protections in place since 2005 with ZERO problems and certainly no threat to the safety of the general school population.

The trouble is, my representative in the Texas House is Matt Rinaldi. Matt is a willfully ignorant Republican who can be exposed to rational thought and reasonable pleas and STILL vote with the other conservative lemmings to punish a group of marginalized kids who have done nothing wrong.

HB 2078 is the name of the bill that addresses emergency preparedness for Texas schools. The amendment to this bill singles out transgender children for humiliation by forcing them into single-stall “special” rest-rooms. It also prevents them from using the same multi-stall bathrooms their peers use — unless those multi-stall bathrooms are completely vacant.

I find it beyond offensive to hear the verbal diarrhea spewing out of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s mouth describing these “bathroom bills” as having something to do with student safety or privacy. These bills — the amendment to HB 2078, the original SB 6 — do no such thing. It’s especially offensive in the absence of a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that would at least address student safety.

Dan, your intellectual dishonesty sets a terrible example.

It breaks my heart to hear from parents of transgender kids who spent their Sunday NOT going to soccer practice or relaxing at home. No, these Mama and Papa bears were in Austin begging legislators NOT to pass the cruel and unnecessary legislation. But to no avail.

It saddens me beyond end to hear of one mom who basically hid from her young transgender daughter because she didn’t want her little girl to see her mom crying, and because she didn’t know how to break the news to her.

Bullies come in all sizes and shapes, and for these kids there is no shortage of bullies of all stripes. The bullies they face in school are bad enough, but having legislators — who were elected to represent and protect them — turning on them in the State Capitol is beyond sickening.

I really, truly believe that 40 years from now, we will look back on these days and wonder how people could have been so blind, so cruel, so unenlightened. By then, being transgender will be like being left-handed — at times a minor inconvenience but no big deal in the big picture.
For now, my only recourse is calling Gov. Greg Abbott and begging him to veto this hateful bill, trying to get him to understand that it is an embarrassment to Texas, not to mention counter to our values.

Why is it that so many pieces of legislation seek to take something away from someone? Immigration status, access to facilities, healthcare, marriage rights. And then there are the so-called “religious freedom” measure, that would allow government-funded discrimination, that would allow someone to keep loving potential parents from adopting when kids are desperately in need of a loving family.

What has happened to us?

I made Matt Rinaldi a promise when I spoke to his office on Sunday. I told his staff that should Matt choose to punish these transgender kids who have done nothing wrong, I would be compelled to do everything in my power to make sure that he is voted out of office. I may not be successful, but I will be a girl on a mission.

If Texas legislators want to rain hell on me, then have at it. I’m a big girl. I can defend myself.

But if you turn your blind bigotry and hatred on small children for whom life is difficult enough already without your fear-inspired attempts to banish them from the social landscape, then shame on you. Shame on you and get ready for a fight, because we will be coming for you and your seat in the Legislature.

You don’t have to go to the Legislature to find hatefulness though. For example, “conservative leader” Steve Hotze spews lunatic ravings mired in fear. Perhaps he ought to read the book he claims to know so well. There is a particular chapter I’d like to recommend: Matthew 18:10 says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

And then there’s Matthew 19:14: “But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Hotze and others like him use the Bible to justify their hatred. But you know, I’m no Bible scholar, and I looked and looked and looked, and I STILL couldn’t find the part where the Bible talks about separate bathrooms for trans people.

You know why — because it’s not there. That’s because Jesus preached that we should love our neighbor, instead of hating and fearing them, even if they are different. Maybe if we refuse to come from a place of fear, these silly attempts at punishing innocent children will end.                           

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, reportedly confirmed his intention not to accept the amendment to SB 2078, which he authored because it did not go far enough in restricting bathroom use by trans people. The Senate, instead, voted Wednesday  to tack SB6 — which was passed in the Senate but stalled in the House — onto a House bill designed as a clean-up bill for local county governance. But Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has said he will kill his own bill rather than allow it to carry the anti-trans amendment,

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

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