If you’ve been following the latest onslaught of anti-trans legislation closely, you likely already know that Texas lawmakers have been pushing more than one exclusionary, hateful bill aimed at hurting trans folks. Mind you, Texas Republicans are far from alone in this mission. In fact, families of trans youth in a number of states, including Arkansas, are planning to leave their homes in order to better protect their family. But while anti-trans bills are cropping up all around the nation, Texas had been considering a number of particularly insidious ones, including a bill to keep trans girls out of girls’ sports.
At midnight on Tuesday, that bill, as well as two others backed by Republicans, died in the Texas House, as reported by The Texas Tribune. Great! But the story doesn’t actually end there. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session in order to advance those bills. While there’s a celebration to be had, we’re not out of the woods entirely yet. Abbott has signaled he would sign the legislation if it came across his desk—and Patrick has been an advocate of the bill all along. Let’s break down what could theoretically happen below.
Senate Bill 29 would have banned trans girls from participating in girls’ sports teams. This legislation would refer to the sex as assigned on the student’s birth certificate, not the student’s actual gender identity. On Tuesday night, Senate Bill 29 was delayed until close to midnight, giving the chamber just half an hour to pass it as the lower chamber was on deadline to pass all Senate bills. However, several other delayed bills went first, and the clock ran out, in part because of excellent maneuvers by House Democrats who asked questions about unrelated bills and amendments until time gradually ran down. Trans Pride flags also moved through the chamber as time to pass this discriminatory legislation fizzled out.
In speaking to The Texas Tribune, state Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat, told the paper that Democrats had a “long, aggressive” floor strategy with the intent of keeping SB 29 from hurting transgender folks in the state. "I'm really happy we were able to end the session by preserving the dignity and rights of the children of Texas to be free of discrimination,” she told the outlet.
On Wednesday morning, however, Patrick tweeted that he’s calling upon Abbott to call a special session in order to pass SB 29, as well as SB 10 and SB 12. As of the time of writing, Abbott has not indicated whether he will call the special session or not. If Abbott does call a special session, lawmakers would be able to consider only the items outlined in his proclamation—presumably in this case SB 29, SB 10, and SB 12.
So when can we feel relief that this bill is actually dead, at least in Texas? On Monday when the session officially ends. That is, if Abbott doesn’t act first.
Even still, people on Twitter are celebrating the success we’ve had so far.
We must act now to urge our senators to vote “yes” to the Equality Act.
Sign and send the petition: The Senate must pass the Equality Act and stop the discrimination against LGBTQ people.