My name is Sofia Sepulveda, I am the Community Engagement and Advocacy manager with Equality Texas, I am a first generation Mexican American Woman, I am an organizer, I am an advocate and I am trans.
This Texas legislative session has been unlike anything we’ve seen the past 15 years.
The attacks on self determination and bodily autonomy has increased at alarming rates and not just on transgender communities but the country as a whole, in particular those states lead by right wing extremist legislators.
But we were the canary in the coal mine.
To start, let’s make one thing clear, we trans people have a right to live free from harassment and we have the right to exist even in a world that does not think of us as worthy. We Trans people were also children at one point.
I remember my first sense of self and true gender identity came to me when I was 4 years old, not influenced by anything in the early 80’s; there was no internet, or trans visibility on television, however there were powerful feminist and women who I admired and aspired to be like them one day, one of them was Lynda Carter on her role of Wonder Woman, her beauty, femininity and strength was who I wanted to be when I grew up and so I tried spinning many times in the hopes that at the end of that spin, this time I will to be a Wonder Woman.
Instead, I was met by corporal punishment by my parents who insisted I couldn’t be her, I had to be Superman which in my 4 year old mind, I wonder why do my parents want me to be a boy when I knew I was a woman.
At 8, my mom who sold Avon caught me in the bathroom with a full face of makeup, it was bad and raggety but I felt the glamor until she called me a freak, I did not understand why I was a freak when I was doing exactly the same thing my older sister was doing, putting on her face.
At 10, while discussing my sister’s Quinceañera, I remember stating very loudly that I wanted my dress to be baby blue, the same color dress that Cindirella had at the ball, my father instead slapped me across the face with the insistence I was a boy, to then hear my siblings laughing about it.
That anguish, the bullying, the pain and trauma I experienced growing up trying to hide who I was and fix something that my parents, society told me was broken is being repeated now but in a bigger way, and the abusers are not our parents but our state legislators.
This year of 2023, the state of Texas introduced a total of 140 bills aimed to erase the trans and queer community in Texas, doubling the number we saw in 2021 with 76 bills introduced.
This is a trend that is happening all across the country where we see the conservative party waging a war with not just against Trans rights, but against reproductive rights and the erasure of the history of our black community, these legislators will stop at nothing to push a Christian National White Heterosexual male led only view of what our nation should be.
But if anything, history has shown that during the most perilous times, we will win.
A record number of 3 thousand Texans have shown up to the capitol to fight against these legislation’s, despite of the efforts that state legislatures continue pushing to shut down our voices, voices of the marginalized as we saw on the ban of 2 Black Tennessean Representatives, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson for exercising their voice and uniting with people to pass sensible gun reform, or Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr, who’s GOP extremist shut down during critical gender affirming care bans, or Florida state legislators shutting down community voices with a “It will pass anyway” statement.
The same thing we are seeing here in Texas.
On March 28th, when the house was hearing SB1686, the Gender Affirming Healthcare Ban for children was being heard, Conservatives legislators flew “experts” from all over the country and proceeded to question them for hours, they had a Chiropractor speaking about the dangers of gender affirming care, meanwhile Chiropractors DO NOT prescribe these medications or see people who are gender variant. People from Iowa and Idaho showed up to speak on the dangers of gender affirming care, as well as 2 detransitioners (only 3% of trans people detransition, out of them about 95% do it because they can’t afford it, they lost insurance or are in an unsupportive environment, or workplace) – meanwhile there were over 500 people waiting since 8 am to testify against this bill, but the legislators only allowed 15 Texans to speak and cut off testimony at midnight, which we mobilized immediately for a die in, targeting Public Health Committee Chair representative Klick, with the chants “Klick lies, Kids die”
Despite this – 2800 people submitted testimony against this bill, vs 98 in favor, showing strongly that Texans want trans people to live and thrive without fear or restriction -, 2 days later, those Texas voices went unheard and the bill moved out of committee.
We have been able to sthal SB14 from passing and going to our governor, people have shown up over and over again, on May 2nd, during a rally against SB 14 – the sister bill of 1686- we dropped a banner stating “Let Trans Kids Grow Up” in the rotunda, a thing that has done a thousand times with no repercussions other than to remove the banner, that day DPS banned me from entering the Capitol for a year.
The fight is not yet over, the session is done on May 28, so we need you to show up, we need you to call or email your representatives. I always think about Texans not wanting to “California” our state. Well… let’s not Florida our Texas and fight for the rights of our most marginalized community, because when we lift up those at the bottom, people at the top can too benefit from good legislation.
Written by: Sofia Sepulveda (she/her/hers)