Past Time To Add Trans Texans To The James Byrd Hate Crimes Law

Back during my first Texas trans lobby day 20 years ago, one of the twin ;legislative goals for that effort was not only to pass a Texas Gender Advocacy Information network (TGAIN) sponsored bill to streamline the name change process, but to make sure we stayed in the proposed James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill.

We intrepid trans citizen lobbyists arrived in Austin to discover that we’d been cut from that bill by the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby (LGRL) so that the sexual orientation language could survive.   It had already been sent out of committee and to the then Democratically controlled Texas House floor for a vote, and it was too late to amend the bill to add us back into it.

Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas

And yeah, I’m still pissed at Dianne Hardy Garcia for that shady legislative BS.

Karma surfaced swiftly because while the trans-free bill passed the Democratic controlled House, it ran into the headwinds of 2000 presidential politics.  It died in committee in the Republican controlled Texas senate.

We got cut out of the Byrd Hate Crimes bill again during the 2001 Texas legislative session, and unfortunately this time it passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry (R)

In the 2002 midterm election the Democrats lost control of the Texas House, and we Texas transfolks are still waiting to get added to the James Byrd Hate Crimes Law.

I bring that sorry legislative history up to point out why the Byrd Hate Crimes law doesn’t cover trans Texans.   It’s way past time that it does since we are the peeps being attacked and killed as Muhlaysia Booker’s case painfully pointed out.

Member Photo

Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) has been trying since 2007 to get trans Texans added to the Byrd Hate Crimes Law, but with Republicans in control of all three branches of Texas government it has been a tough slog to do so. 

Nevertheless, he keeps trying, and has filed HB 1513 in this session in order to do that. 

Member Photo

HB 1513 is sitting in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committeechaired by Rep Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) and is still awaiting a hearing as of this writing. 

But the clock is ticking toward the Memorial Day end of the session.  It would be nice if HB 1513 could finally get a hearing and at least start the process of righting a wrong that was perpetrated on the Texas trans community 20 years ago.   

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