Amid one of my travels to my favorite city in the world, Austin, I broke the morning of my day of exploring Austin with a trip to the neighborhood Starbucks to do some work I had to finish that day.
After ordering, I walked over to the restroom, and, to my surprise, the Starbucks had two restrooms that were gender neutral. A smile ran across my face as I thought, “wow, Texas, for once, you got your head out of the 1950s.” It felt like a small societal accomplishment, and as a Texan, I was proud that the bathroom issue seemed to be in a place for anyone to be accepted.
Oh boy, little did I know that the red-beaming Texas would soon snatch that idea away.
Last week, the Texas Senate revisited the bathroom bill issue of restricting bathroom use by transgender individuals in government buildings and schools. By a vote of 8 to 1, a Republican-filled Senate committee ruled in favor of the bill on Friday evening and will propose the bill to the entire Senate for a vote in attempts to get it passed.
If enacted, the bill would require transgender people to use the restroom, locker room or showers that relate to their gender on their birth certificate instead of their preferred gender identity.
The capitol witnessed more than 250 people, who were for and against the bill, testifying before the committee.
Instead of going on and on about why revisiting this bill is outright ridiculous, I will reflect on some of the key testimonies that were spoken before the committee. Loud music and a plethora of concerts have destroyed my sense of hearing, but whatever destroyed the hearing capabilities of these senators, who heard these testimonies, must be horrid.
From a financial standpoint, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg traveled to the hearing and said that just the fact that the state filed the petition meant that many conventions that were set to be hosted in the city have pulled out. Also, he and some others who testified alluded to the high chance of boycotting among major companies, causing industries, such as those of oil and gas, to possibly form and deprive Texas of necessities.
IBM retracted ads in major Texas newspapers and said that as a company they “firmly oppose” all discrimination that would hurt the LGBTQ community, and said how businesses will suffer in recruiting and retaining talent.
Joining IBM were chief executives of 14 Dallas-based companies, including American Airlines, AT&T, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments. They expressed to the governor in a letter how the bill would really affect the selection process of who they could possibly lose out on.
Now, from a human’s perspective, hearing the testimonies of transgender people and people closely related to transgender individuals were completely heartbreaking. Some said they fear new discriminations that will arise from this, questioning why these Republicans desire to be “bathroom police.” Some parents are scared for their children, who may have to go back to using a restroom in which they do not feel comfortable with.
Testifying for the bill were seemingly radical Republicans, who seemed uneducated or misinformed about the topic. They called it an issue about “safety,” but a simple gender-oriented restroom is not going to hinder mentally unstable people from committing acts of sexual assault.
Again, as recalled by Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church, who is scheduled to have a convention in Austin, back in 1955, Curry and the church had to move the convention from Houston because Texas prohibited integration of black and white Episcopalians.
This is not a race war, but rather about justice for humanity; one in which the senators need to wake up and realize that toying with gender is a prehistoric misconception.
Take Europe for instance, in some areas it is the normal to have integrated restrooms and it’s not a big deal at all to them. Only in America are labels more important than the bigger picture of humanity.
The chances of winning approval for the bill seems pretty likely for a Republican-centered Senate, but chances are not so high when it comes to the House.
So to the House, it is up to you and the full Senate to turn away this far-fetched bill. And to you who care so much about the bill being enacted, please take into consideration the lives of those truly affected—the transgender ones. You will never be able to experience the uncomfortable environment that they experience, and this bill would only increase that discomfort.