UPDATED: Texas Senate holding hearing on bathroom bill Friday, phone bank Thursday

Sen. Joan Huffman

UPDATE: HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz needs volunteers to staff a phone bank Thursday, July 20, from 4-8 p.m., to call constituents and remind them to contact their state senators and state representatives and urge those elected officials to vote against anti-transgender bathroom bills during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Ruiz stressed that phone bank is not necessary because training will be offered on site. She also said that while those participating will have access to a laptop, it would help if volunteers who are able to bring a laptop and mouse would do so.

The phone bank will be set up at the Dallas County Democratic Party office, 4209 Parry Ave. Email Ruiz at Criss.Ruiz@hrc.org for information and to volunteer.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has announced there will be a hearing on Sen. Lois Kolkhorst’s anti-transgender bathroom bill at 9 a.m. Friday, July 21, at the Texas State Capitol.

The actual language of this version of the bill has not been released. Opponents of the discriminatory bill have established a Facebook page to post updates about the hearing.

Opponents are also organizing ride-sharing/carpool efforts to get people to Austin for the Friday morning hearing. Check here to sign up to participate.

In HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz is working to set up a Dallas-area phone bank for Thursday, July 20, to get volunteers to call constituents and remind them to call their state senators and representatives to express their opposition to this and other bathroom bills. Check back here for updates.

—  Tammye Nash

HRC phone banking continues; volunteers needed

As Texas lawmakers prepare to convene in Austin for a special session that will once again include efforts to pass an anti-trans bathroom bill, the Human Rights Campaign/DFW continues its phone banks, and they are looking for volunteers to participate.

Those who volunteer for the phone banking will be calling Texans in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to remind them to call their state representatives and senators and voice opposition to the bathroom bill and other bad legislation, according to HRC field organizer Criss Ruiz.

Phone banks will be in operation from 4-8 p.m. at the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters, 4209 Parry Ave., on July 18, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.

For information, email Ruiz at CrissRuiz@hrc.org.

—  Tammye Nash

Patrick ‘pushes back’ after Straus quote links bathroom bill to suicide

Straus.Joe

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus

(IMHO: Dan Patrick’s spokeswoman says the bathroom bill has never been about discrimination. That’s bullshit and everybody knows it. It is and always has been exactly about discrimination against transgender people and anyone who doesn’t “look right.” — T. Nash.)

 

Paul J. Weber | Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — The driving force in Texas behind a “bathroom bill” pushed back Monday, July 3, after the Republican House speaker was quoted as saying he didn’t want a “suicide” on his hands over efforts to restrict which restrooms transgender people can use.

LGBT rights groups and other opponents, meanwhile, praised House Speaker Joe Straus over comments published in The New Yorker that signaled a moral opposition to a “bathroom bill” alongside his repeated condemnation of the measure as bad for the Texas economy.

In the story published Monday, author Lawrence Wright wrote that Straus told him about a senator coming to his office with a proposed compromise just before the bill collapsed in May.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I am a Texan,” said Straus, according to the magazine. “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”

Aides to Straus did not return emails Monday.

The comment appeared to echo concerns raised by LGBT rights groups that efforts to restrict which bathrooms transgender people can use further marginalize a group of people who at least one recent survey has shown attempt suicide at a higher-than-average rate.

Republican Lt Gov. Dan Patrick has spearheaded the push for a North Carolina-style “bathroom bill” in Texas, and a spokeswoman said Monday he did not send any senators to Straus’ office. She said the bill has never been about discrimination and that if Straus’ comments were accurate, it would be “the latest of his reasons” for opposing the bill.

“The Lt. Governor hopes the Speaker did not make these comments. Obviously no one wants to see harm to anyone as a result of any legislation that is passed,” Patrick spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester said in an email to The Associated Press.

Straus is the powerful leader of the GOP-controlled House and for months has gone against Abbott and Patrick — as well as most Texas Republican lawmakers — in his public rejection of efforts to impose bathroom restrictions on transgender people. Patrick has blamed Straus for sinking the measure and forcing a special legislative session that will begin July 18.

In December, the largest survey of transgender Americans painted a grim picture of pervasive discrimination and harassment, finding that 40 percent of respondents said they had attempted suicide at some point. The survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality assessed input received in 2015 from 27, 715 respondents in all 50 states. Researchers have estimated that the overall attempted suicide rate in the U.S. is less than 5 percent.

Leaders of Equality Texas, an LGBT right group, and Texas Competes, which says it has gathered signed opposition from more than 1,000 companies including Amazon and American Airlines, said they were glad to see a leading Republican share concerns that opponents have voiced for months.

“I’m pleased to see he said that. It’s true that literally people’s lives are at stake here,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas.

Abbott made what he calls “privacy protection legislation” part of a lengthy special legislative session agenda. He said last week that Texas needs bathroom regulations for “protecting the privacy of women and children” to avoid what he described as a patchwork of conflicting regulations across the state.

Some of Texas’ biggest cities, including Dallas and Austin, have anti-discrimination ordinances that extend protections to transgender people in public spaces.

 

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

—  Tammye Nash

UIL takes no action on trans proposals

James M. Russell
Special to Dallas Voice

 

McDonnell.Rafael

Rafael McDonnell, Resource Center communications and advocacy manager

The statewide body overseeing high school sports and other extracurricular activities made no decision on three proposals impacting transgender student athletes at their meeting in Round Rock today (Tuesday, June 13).

The committees comprising the University Interscholastic League were slated to consider three proposals with consequences for transgender student athletes. But all three failed to get enough support to pass out of committee.

Another would have been a step forward for the body by aligning its performance enhancing drug policy with the International Olympic Committee’s. The IOC’s standards, which allow transgender athletes to compete, passed in early 2016.

According to the rule, female-to-male athletes will be able to participate in men’s competitions with no restriction. Male-to-female athletes, however, will need to prove their testosterone levels have been below a certain level for the past year to be allowed to compete.

That proposal clarifying trans student athlete participation was initially heard in the athletics committee before being transferred to policy.

“The athletics committee head seemed understanding,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at Resource Center. “He said he understood this was an issue of equity.”

Two of the proposals, however, would have made it even more difficult for transgender student athletes to participate.

A proposal similar to a bill that was considered by the legislature would have banned any athlete “performance-enhancing drugs,” which would rule out any transgender athlete taking any dosage of hormone replacement therapy. Despite scientific evidence concluding a student who is transition is taking fewer hormones than one who is doping, the proposal has consistently appeared before UIL and elsewhere.

A similar bill by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would have done the same thing.

Another would allow any parent to complain to the legislative council about the eligibility of another student. The issue could have an unintended consequence for transgender athletes.

None of the proposals passed. But McDonnell noted a new rule went stating a student athlete’s gender is determined on a student’s birth certificate, not gender identity went into effect this year. So while other discriminatory rules may have been dodged, is that a victory?

“There’s no political will to change these policies. But there may be a political will to keep them as is,” McDonnell said.

—  Tammye Nash

Equality March Dallas honors Pride, remembers those lost to violence

Dallas’ LGBT community joined LGBT people and our allies nationwide on Sunday in marching for equality and unity and Pride. After gathering for a rally at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road, participants marched down Cedar Springs Road to the Legacy of Love Monument, at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn Avenue, where a ceremony was held remembering and honoring the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, and the trans men and women who have been murdered this year.

A national Equality March was held Sunday in Washington, D.C., and — following the model of the Women’s March in January — events were held around the country on the same day, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Abilene and Texarkana.

Chuck Marcelo with Marcelo Media captured the Dallas rally and march in photos for Dallas Voice.

—  Tammye Nash

San Antonio woman is 12th trans person murdered this year

Kenne McFadden

Kenne McFadden has been identified as the 11th transgender person murdered in the U.S. since Jan. 1.

A San Antonio River Walk barge operator found McFadden’s fully-clothed body floating in the San Antonio River on April 9. But her name was not added to the list of trans murder victims until this week because police misgendered and dead-named her. Police also said there were no obvious signs of trauma and McFadden’s death was accidental.

Now, two months later, according to the San Antonio Current, officials have acknowledged that McFadden was a trans woman “in the process of transitioning,” and have ruled her death a homicide by drowning — even though the updated police report still identifies her as male.

SAPD Sgt. Jesse Salame told KENS 5 this week that investigators have determined that McFadden was murdered and possibly pushed into the river. Salame also confirmed that police have a suspect in the case — a man that McFadden knew who is already in jail on unrelated charges. He also said police have found no evidence that McFadden’s murder was linked to her race — she was black — or her gender identity.

Other trans people murdered this year have been:

  • Mesha Caldwell, 41, a black trans woman from Canton, Miss., found shot to death Jan. 4. The murder is still under investigation and no suspects have been arrested.
  • Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, an American Indian woman who identified as transgender and two-spirit, found dead in her apartment in Sioux Falls, S.D., on. Jan. 6. Joshua Rayvon LeClaire, 25, has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in connection with her death.
  • JoJo Striker, 23, a black trans woman murdered in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 8. No arrests have been made.
  • Tiara Richmond, also known as Keke Collier, 24, a trans woman of color shot to death in Chicago on the morning of Feb. 21. She was found dead on the same street as two other transgender women murdered in 2012. No arrests have been made.
  • Chyna Gibson, aka Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, a black trans woman shot to death in New Orleans on Feb. 25. She was a well-known performer in the ballroom community who was visiting friends and family in New Orleans at the time of her death. No arrests have been made.
  • Ciara McElveen, 26, a trans woman of color stabbed to death in New Orleans on Feb. 27. McElveen did outreach for the homeless community. No arrests have been made.
  • Jaquarrius Holland, 18, a black transwoman shot to death in Monroe, La., on Feb. 19. She was initially misgendered by police and media reports. No arrests have been made.
  • Alphonza Watson, 38, a black trans woman shot to death in Baltimore, Md., on March 22. No arrests have been made.
  • Chay Reed, 28, a trans woman of color shot to death on April 21 in Miami. No arrests have been made.
  • Kenneth Bostick, 59, a trans man who was beaten to death April 25 in Chelsea, New York City. Joseph Griffin, 26, has been arrested and charged with his death.
  • Also, Sherrell Faulkner, 46, a transgender woman of color severely injured in an attack in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 30, 2016, died of her injuries on May 16. No arrests have been made.

 

 

—  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

Straus: No more compromise on bathroom bill

Speaker of the House Joe Straus

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus said today (Friday, May 26) that he and the House members have compromised enough when it comes to anti-transgender bathroom bills, referring to the amendment to Sen. Larry Taylor’s SB 2078 that the House approved last Sunday. Straus said that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his right-wing minions in the state Senate can take it or leave, because the Legislature has already spent way too much time wrangling over where people can pee.

Instead, Straus said, lawmakers should be paying attention to funding public schools and bolstering mental health services.

According to Quorum Report, Straus said today he WILL NOT appoint conferees on the latest bathroom bill.

Gov. Greg Abbott has urged lawmakers to reach a compromise, and Patrick has threatened to force a special session if he doesn’t get his way.

According to a Dallas Voice source in Austin, “Patrick is unraveling. He can only grandstand so much. The Senate has played its last cards. This is in Abbott’s hands and he is, of course, going to fuck up.

“This is unreal,” the source said.

The House passed the SB 2078 amendment, offered by Rep. Chris Paddie and which would require schools to have single-stall restrooms available for trans students who do not want to use multi-stall bathrooms, and Straus said today that schools had approved the amendment, saying it would allow trans students to use the facilities matching their gender identity. But Taylor said the amendment didn’t go far enough and when the amended bill ended up back in the Senate, he said he wouldn’t allow it to go through with the amendment.

Instead, the Senate tacked Sen. Lois Kolkhurt’s SB 6 — which would restrict bathroom use in schools and government buildings and rescind local nondiscrimination ordinances — onto a “catchall” bill by Rep. Garnet Coleman. Coleman has, in turn, said he will pull his bill rather than allow it thru with SB 6 attached.

Patrick is slated to speak to the press at 7:30. Stay tuned for updates.

—  Tammye Nash

Equality Texas offering legislative update at Cedar Grove; Patrick threatens special session over bathroom bill

Steve Rudner

About 10 days before the scheduled end of the 85th Texas Legislature, Equality Texas, the statewide LGBT lobbying organization based in Austin, will give a legislative update on Thursday, May 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Cedar Grove, 4123 Cedar Springs Road, #110.

The event begins at 6 p.m., with remarks starting at 6:45 p.m. Equality Texas Board President Steve Rudner will talk about the status of LGBT-related bills and issues in the legislature, and then take questions from the audience.

The event is free, sponsored by Alan H. Levi, CPA, Jones Day Law Firm and Littler Mendelson, PC. and each attendee’s first drink is complimentary. (A cash bar will be available.)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — titty baby supreme of Texas (Trump holds the national title) — has threatened to force the Legislature into a special session unless Speaker of the House Joe Strauss falls into goose-step line and gets both an anti-transgender bathroom bill (Patrick’s special interest issue) and a specific tax bill passed out of the house.

Texas Tribune reports: “Patrick deemed Senate Bill 2, a property tax bill from state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, and either Senate Bill 6, the “bathroom bill” from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, or similar language amended to another bill, as must-pass measures to avoid a special session. Both bills have passed the Senate and are currently in the House.

—  Tammye Nash

Trans coach finds acceptance in small Rhode Island town

 

Stephen Alexander was a typical boy. He loved Transformers and Gobots (but did not find out until later that they were a product of Hasbro in Providence, R.I., just a few miles from his home in Chepachet). He spent hours with the neighborhood kids, playing basketball, baseball and Wiffle ball. “I never wanted to go home,” he recalls.

There was one problem: His parents treated him like a girl. That’s what they saw when they looked at his genitals.

And that’s why Alexander competed on girls teams at Ponaganset High School. He was a superb athlete — one of the best in the school’s history, male or female. He scored more than 1,000 points for the Chieftains’ girls basketball team, winning four consecutive state championships and earning All-State first team honors. He was offered a full scholarship for the basketball team at Stonehill College, a Division II Jesuit school in Massachusetts. But he gave it up, because being in the women’s locker room finally became too unbearable.

Majoring in religious studies, psychology and philosophy, Alexander sought to discover who he really was. His journey of self-discovery took him about as far away from Rhode Island as he could go: Tasmania. There he studied Buddhism. Studying further, through a Semester at Sea program, he finally understood himself as a transgender man.

“I tell people I’ve crossed the equator, the prime meridian and the gender spectrum,” he quips. He says the process took him from gender identity disorder, to gender identity difference, and finally to gender identity feelings.

He returned to his home town, and finally came out to his parents. But Chepachet is a very small place. Soon, he headed to the biggest city in the U.S.: New York.

Everyone knew him in Chepachet. In NYC, nobody did. That’s where he began his career as a teacher. It’s also where he had gender reassignment surgery. His parents, who had taken their own path to understanding their son, were there. Doctors told them that most parents seldom are.

But the pull of home was strong. His sister has two children, and Alexander wanted to watch them grow up. He returned to Rhode Island, and tried to figure out what to do next.

A female friend told him the boys middle school soccer team needed a coach. Alexander stepped in. Soon he was coaching their basketball and baseball teams. Tennis and volleyball followed. He coached boys and girls teams. He loved what he was doing. There were challenges — managing young adolescents is not easy, and their parents can be a handful, too — but that’s part of the joy of coaching.

Though he was in a small town, and most people there had known him as a champion female athlete, he says that being a trans man was never an issue. No one said anything to his face; no one complained to the school board. There may have been whispers, he admits, and perhaps one or two youngsters did not try out for his teams because of the coach. But if that happened, he says, “I never heard about it.”

He worked with coaches he’d gone to school with. He coached boys and girls whose parents he’d played sports with, or been taught by. Some of those adults still call him by the name they remember. They try to call him “Stephen,” but old habits die hard.

Perhaps they’re reminded by the banner hanging in the Ponaganset High School gym. It honors the few players who scored more than 1,000 points in their basketball careers. Alexander’s is there, with his girl’s name. There is one place his name does not appear: the Ponaganset Athletic Hall of Fame. His sister nominated him, but he has not been selected.

Alexander was surprised … but then again, he wasn’t. What people say behind closed doors is not always what they say to his face.

Alexander has a lot to say. He’s created a website called Transition Games (www.transitiongames.com), in part to highlight his public speaking career. “Stephen’s story brought me to tears, and to a new understanding of diversity in sports,” praises a college student who heard him talk.

“It’s so important to have conversations about transforming sports,” Alexander says. “We need to help kids recognize early what happens when we separate the sexes. There’s this notion that boys are better, faster and stronger than girls. Sports is really about finding out who you are, whoever you are, then working together to heighten competitiveness and honor your opponents. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

And Stephen Alexander — a trans man, and boys and girls sports coach in rural Rhode Island — is doing it.

— Dan Woog

—  Arnold Wayne Jones