Like many other state legislatures, the Texas state legislature normally only meets during one legislative session held every two years after each election cycle, but lawmakers in Texas have seen a lot of each other this year. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called half a dozen special sessions to throw bombs in the conservative movement's culture war and the latest special session has been no different.
Abbott recently called yet another special session to make his ban on vaccine mandates a state law rather than an executive order, but Republican lawmakers pulled out all the stops to finally pass a ban on transgender participation in school sports.
Like similar bills passed by Republicans in other states, the new bill that's headed to Abbott's desk explicitly bans girls from sports programs while ignoring the existence of transgender boys.
The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that bans transgender women and girls from participating in female school sports after three previous attempts failed, all but assuring Republican Governor Greg Abbott will sign it into law. [...]
While the Texas Senate passed a companion bill, three previous House versions of the legislation stalled in the public education committee, which has a Democratic chairman. Republicans then created a new version of the bill and sent it through a select committee they control, enabling it to pass the full House late Thursday.
Transgender people like me are the last minority that can still be used as a political and legal prop to animate voters.
Republicans could not get away with passing a legal ban on gay people, for example, but they can still pass a ban on transgender girls and business will continue as usual. They can't explicitly ban people for religious or racial reasons, but they can ban girls like me for no substantiated reason at all.
"There's no evidence that there's a problem. This is red meat for the base," said Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
"Like a lot of other things in Texas politics right now, this is selling mainly to very ideologically driven voters in the Republican Party. These are the voters that show up for Republican primaries," said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.
Transphobia is the last acceptable form of homophobia and I'd like to see a day when that is no longer the case. It will take a Supreme Court ruling to end the bans but it will take much more for transgender people to find as much mainstream acceptance as others on the LGBTQ spectrum.
As a transgender woman, I feel my most militant when vulnerable young girls like me are used for a sound bite by conservatives who probably watch transgender porn videos when they go home at night.