Legislature promises a very special session

The special session of the legislature begins on Tuesday, July 18. Dallas Voice will be there for the opening and for the protests that are planned in Austin.

Legislators are preparing for the special session by filing a variety of bills that prevent cities from passing ordinances to self-govern and to make the lives of transgender people miserable. Equality Texas is tracking those bills. Here are four of the worst that have been filed so far:

HB 46 by Rep. Simmons would prohibit all political subdivisions, including municipalities, school districts, and state colleges and universities, from adopting or enforcing any ordinances or policies that protect transgender people in bathrooms or changing facilities.

HB 50 by Rep. Simmons is similar to HB 46, but relates only to school districts, prohibiting them from adopting or enforcing policies that protect transgender students in bathrooms or changing facilities.

SB 23 by Sen. Hall is a statewide pre-emption bill that would prohibit counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing laws or ordinances that prohibit discrimination on a basis not protected in state law, and would void all current nondiscrimination ordinances such as those adopted by Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Plano.

The links will help track the progress of these bills as they make their way through the special session. Speaker of the House Joe Straus is on record opposing wasting time with these types of bills and said he is not willing to be responsible for a single suicide that might result from passing any of these bills. He’s not likely to place these bills in committees that would be sympathetic to them.

If want to know what you can do, here are some options.

—  David Taffet

Celebrating Pride and peeing in Austin

Austin Pride celebrated the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on Wednesday, June 28, with this lovely display on the steps of the Texas Capitol. The art installation takes a very colorful jab at some lawmakers — Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who seem hell-bent on ruining our state’s economy and its reputation by passing an anti-trans bathroom bill. I found the photo on the Facebook page of Sister Lawn Joqui with the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Her sentiments: “Happy Pride and Happy 48th Stonewall anniversary, you bathroom bill pushing motherf*¢kers!”

—  Tammye Nash

Austin trans woman speaking out about being raped, beaten

Christi Long, aka Christi Foxx Paris. Photo supplied to KXAN by Guillermo Garcia

Austin trans woman Christi Long — well known there as drag performer Christi Foxx Paris — is speaking out after being raped and beaten in her home on Sunday. And she hopes that other trans people who are victims of violence will follow her example.

Long told Austin TV station KXAN’s Brittany Glas that a man she thought was a friend raped her after she refused to have sex with him and then hit her in the back of the head with a hammer. She managed to get away and, after grabbing a knife from the kitchen, ran outside to go to a neighbor’s house for help. But when she saw his car in her driveway, she instead slashed the tires on the car, in an effort to keep him from getting away, and then hid in her own backyard.

The wound to her head required 12 staples to close.

The suspect escaped. KXAN reports that a report alleging rape and assault has been filed with the Austin Police Department, but it was unclear whether the suspect had been arrested.

Long said she is speaking up about the attack because she wants “something positive” to come out of her ordeal, and she hopes that by speaking up herself, she can encourage other trans people to report violence against them.

She told KXAN: “No matter what you identify as, you need to come forward if somebody sexually assaults you. You need to contact law enforcement. Whenever you say ‘no,’ no means no and it should always mean no.”

Watch video of the KXAN report below:

 

—  Tammye Nash

Sara Ramirez speaking at the All In for Equality Advocacy Day rally

Sara Ramirez

Gray’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez— who played a bisexual character on the show and recently came out as bisexual herself — was one of the speakers on Monday, May 20, in Austin as part of All In for Equality rally on Advocacy Day.

Read the story here.

See photos here.

Here is a brief video clip of part of her remarks:

—  Tammye Nash

Austin Splash Days returns Labor Day weekend; tickets on sale June 1

Splash-5Maybe it’s because our third annual Swimsuit Edition comes out Friday, but we’re in the mood to think about summer swim parties. And not all of them are in North Texas. For a number of years, Splash Days — the Austin event benefiting the LGBT community (AIDS Services of Austin and Care Communities) — didn’t have as much water to splash around in. But while the drought isn’t over, lake-goers have even more H2O to play in with the annual music, dance, Pride and unity celebration,  which takes place over Labor Day weekend.

splash-2013-ASThis year welcomes men and women for the festivities … and more parties that before. Friday night is Swim Meet at The Belmont with DJ Benson Wilder the official welcome party. Saturday is the main event Splash Dance with DJ Roland Belmares. Sunday daytime is the Get Wet lake party at Hippie Hollow (where Lake Travis is at high water mark). That night is the High Tide recovery party with DJ Grind, followed by daytime Monday’s Adult Swim (pool party T-dance) at Hotel Van Zandt pool.

You can buy a weekend pass, a VIP pass or individual tickets. Visit here for more information and tickets, starting June 1.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GALLERY: Photos from Monica Loera vigil in Austin

The Revolutionary Alliance of Trans People Against Capitalism held a rally and vigil honoring murdered trans woman Monica Loera last night, Feb. 12, at Alamo Park, 2100 Alamo St. in Austin.

Loera was shot to death Jan. 22 outside her North Austin home by a man she had been arguing with, according to police reports. JonCasey William Rowell, 29, was arrested and charged with first degree murder in connection with her death.

Loera is the first transgender person murdered since the start of 2016.

News of Loera’s murder was not publicized in the LGBT community for several days because police and Austin media initially misgendered Loera, referring to her by her pre-transition name, and circulating a driver’s license photo of her also taken before she transitioned.

Drew Stanley of Austin was on the scene for the Dallas Voice. Stanley’s photos are below.

—  James Russell

1st trans murder of 2016 reported in Austin

Monica Loera

Monica Loera

JonCasey William Rowell, 29, has been charged with first degree murder and is being held in Travis County Jail on a $250,000 bond, in connection with the Jan. 22 shooting death of Monica Loera, a 43-year-old Austin trans woman, according to reports posted yesterday (Friday, Jan. 29) by Monica Roberts on her TransGriot blog.

This is the first reported murder of a transgender person in 2016, Roberts said. She also noted that the most in the LGBT community were unaware of Loera’s murder for about a week because Austin-area media misgendered her in their reports.

Pink News, a LGBT news outlet in the United Kingdom, reported that several Austin-area media outlets “reported a police plea for information which identified the victim as ‘David Loera’ and circulated an old pre-transition driver’s license photo.”

In an article in the Austin Chronicle, writer Nina Hernandez took other media to task for their callous treatment of Loera’s murder, noting that “the wild curls and wide grins from her Facebook page — and above all else, her chosen name — have been omitted to a staggering degree. Instead Loera has been described using her birth name and masculine pronouns.”

There has been, Hernandez continued, “no public acknowledgement of her death or the [transgender] community that has been further traumatized in its wake. And that’s wrong.”

Witnesses told police Loera was “engaged in conversation” with a man in front of her home in north Austin when the man shot her. Witnesses’ description of the shooter and messages he allegedly left on Loera’s phone led police to Rowell.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.30.31 PM

JonCasey William Rowell

At least 21 transgender women, nearly all of them trans women of color, were murdered in 2015, including two in Texas: Ty Underwood, killed in January 2015 in Tyler, and Ms. Shade, found dead in a field in Dallas in July. Activists agree that the number of victims is likely much higher since many transgender victims are misgendered by police and the media, as was initially the case with Loera.

Roberts pledged that she will be “watching this case until our sister receives justice” and to update her readers as she gets new information.

“Rest in power and peace, Monica,” Roberts wrote on her blog. “Your trans family and all who loved you will not rest until justice is served.”

—  Tammye Nash

Road trip! Gay bear rapper Big Dipper to perform in Austin

Vibin_Still_003Sometimes, you just wanna escape the North Texas heat and take a road trip to green, hilly Austin (it’s still hot, but it’s somewhere else’s version of hot). If that’s you, this weekend might be the ideal time. Big Dipper — a gay bear rapper, whom we’ve profiled here — will be performing off his new EP Extra Good, at Highland Nightclub on July 24. The first single off the EP (available now) is Vibin’, which puts the hirsute hip-hopper in a mermaid costume … though, I guess he’s technically a merman, without the Ethel.

You can check out the video here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Operation Jade Helm begins and the crazies … I mean our governor … is on alert

WalMart-250x169Happy first day of Operation Jade Helm, the military operation in which Texas will be taken over by the United States. According to sources, maps in the White House already show Texas as part of the United States.

The crazies are out all over the country this week. But who can blame them? I mean, gay marriage.

In South Carolina, April Lee Yates, 51, started a disturbance in a restaurant and was asked to pay her bill and leave. She said Jesus would pay the bill for her. Jesus never showed up. The woman went to jail.

A Tennessee woman was arrested at a gas station for printing her own money, because she read on the Internet Obama made it legal. Pamela Downs, 45, printed the $5 bill on her home printer and glued the top and bottom together. Police found a $100 bill in her purse and another $30,000 in her apartment.

Donald Trump had to remove a tweet from his Twitter feed because it showed him with soldiers. Upon closer inspection, those soldiers were in Nazi SS uniforms.

In Bastrop, “citizen volunteers” are on patrol, wary of Operation Jade Helm 15. Bastrop County is the county east of Travis County. Obviously, Bastrop is a good staging area to take over Texas, because from Bastrop, U.S. troops can easily overtake Austin.

Oh, wait, no they can’t. None of Austin’s highways are complete and the city is in a constant state of gridlock.

So far, no reports yet of Texans being placed in Walmarts that have been converted to FEMA camps, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised daily briefings on Jade Helm through the summer.

—  David Taffet

Austin police release mug shot of alleged attacker

Fera.Tony

Mug shot of Tony Fera (courtesy Austin Police Department)

Austin police have released the mug shot of the man arrested in the attack of Andy Smith, a Texas Instruments executive from Dallas.

The man is Tony Fera, 51. Austin Business Journal identifies him president of MidStar Energy, a Houston oil company. His bail was set at $5,000.

—  David Taffet