Hundreds demonstrate at Texas capitol – but ‘bathroom bill’ still advances

From The Guardian UK:

Measure heads to full state senate after 13 hours of public comment in Austin feature passionate testimony on behalf of transgender people: ‘It is all fear’

in Houston
Wednesday 8 March 2017

It has raised the ire of business leaders, equal rights campaigners, a host of celebrities and sports leagues.

On Tuesday, ordinary Texans had their say on the state’s proposed North Carolina-style “bathroom bill” as more than 400 people demonstrated and lined up to speak at a hearing on Senate Bill 6 at the capitol in Austin.

Testimony by dozens of people opposed to the bill continued late into the night. A mother of a transgender boy said his “mental and physical health are at risk from this bill” and that because he is not allowed to use the male restroom at school, he avoids eating and drinking so he does not need to use the toilet.

Another said that the bill “would impede transgender people like my son from living a normal life and it would place them in danger. That is all it would accomplish.”

The proposed bill, modeled on a North Carolina law that prompted backlash across the state, would compel people in public buildings such as schools and universities to use a bathroom that aligns with the “biological sex” on their birth certificate. It also bans local authorities from enacting their own bathroom ordinances and imposes civil penalties on schools and state agencies that violate the law.

One woman spoke through tears as her young daughter sat by her side and tried to comfort her.

“Our daughter Rose knew at a very young age she was transgender,” she said. “She’s not safe in the boys’ bathroom … to those that dismissively say ‘just change the birth certificate’, we can’t, we tried.” In Texas, that requires a court order.

The girl then spoke: “One time while I was just minding my own business at the boys’ bathroom, a random boy hopped over the stall just looking at me and it did not feel right,” she said. “If I ever go into a boys’ bathroom again it would just bring up that same memory over and over again.”

Passionate entreaties against the bill failed to sway the Republican-dominated senate committee. After 13 hours of public comment it voted 7-1 in the early hours of Wednesday in favour of advancing the bill to the full senate. If passed by the senate, it will head to the house for consideration.

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