"What do you think of the Bathroom laws being proposed in the U.S.?" Asked every foreign journalist
After news of me being trans and a mayor broke literally around the world, everyone wanted to know my opinion on the 'Bathroom laws' that were either enacted or in some process of becoming a law. Of course I was against them, but I started thinking, why would I just sit by and let this happen? So Jess the advocate was born.
I was asked to join 'Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination", a nationwide group of mayors opposed to discrimination. Of course I did. They published a Q&A on discrimination and what we could do about it:
The Texas Senate Proposed SB6, a bill that would restrict bathroom use to the gender marker on your birth certificate, and strip cities rights to pass non-discrimination ordinances.
The public hearing for this was in March and I was there, along with 400+ trans people and a couple of thousand supporters. We testified, either by speaking or submitting written testimony. It was 87% against, the Senate ignored the publics wishes and passed the bill on the the Texas House of Representatives.
State Representative warns the public of the toxic attitude in the legislature :
Next they added 400 amendments to the state budget bill in hopes of giving them a free ride as the budget was definitely going to pass. Many of these amendments contained anti-trans language. We formed a plan to make ourselves seen.
The press covered the event:
We claimed victory as the amendments we were against were defeated. More importantly, the proponents decided they could not pass the bill (SB6) in the house as written. So they took a page from North Carolina and watered down the language and produced HB2899. Still a pure and simple bill to allow discrimination. This time sloppy writing allowed discriminating against not just LGBTQ+ people but added veterans and pregnant women.
Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination asked some of their members to comment on the new bill:
HB2899 public hearing was held April 19, 2017 and we were back.
This time the results were 95% against. The House committee has not voted yet on if the bill should go before the full House, but we are optimistic they will kill it in committee. The House seemed to be a much more intelligent group. Where the Senate would listen to easily debunkable sudo-science without question, the House would question the validity of everything presented, both for and against.
The Dallas News covered the hearing with their Capital reporter sitting in through the hearing that lasted until the wee hours of the next morning. She live tweeted as testimony occurred and summed it up in this article:
The Texas Observer as well:
The Bathroom bills failed to get out of committee and died in the house of representatives. This would have ben the ends of it, but Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, seeing defeat, held up passage of a critical budget for Texas medical regulatory agencies. This forces Governor Abbott to call a special session of the Texas legislature at a cost of estimated. one million taxpayer dollars.
July 18, 2017 the session began.