All In For Equality Coalition Statement on Harassment and Threats Against LGBTQIA+ Texans

by HRC Staff

Houston, Texas — Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. However, in Texas, the day is being observed with a barrage of attacks on the safety of trans youth, their families, and doctors.

Late Tuesday, an outlet known for spreading disinformation about transgender issues posted partial medical records of transgender patients in Texas. This is an extreme violation of patient privacy and U.S. law. It increases the cloud of fear hanging over transgender youth and their families in Texas.

Sharing people’s private medical records is an egregious violation of privacy - and it is yet another piece of the layered and systematic attack aimed at eliminating transgender Texans from every aspect of public life. Not even private medical records are safe in a Texas that has doggedly pushed transgender people further into the margins in every area of life.

Given the clear violation of law, we understand investigations may be launched at the local, state, and federal levels. We will not be sharing additional information about the leak to protect the patients and families affected.

“The fear tactics being deployed against the transgender community are as cruel as they are anti-Texan. Our community is continuing to violently absorb the real-life consequences of hateful political rhetoric. We deserve to be safe, we deserve to be equal, we deserve to raise our families without harassment and threats - and we will not stop working to make that a reality,” stated Emmett Schelling, Executive Director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT).

This atmosphere of fear has been deliberately manufactured at multiple levels.

In the Texas legislature

This session legislators filed an unprecedented number of bills targeting every aspect of life for LGBTQ+ Texans. This week alone the Texas House is debating three cruel and dehumanizing bills, including the final passage of SB 14, a bill to ban critical medical care for transgender youth. This legislative onslaught sends a powerful message painting LGBTQIA+ Texans as ‘others.’ We deserve elected officials who aren’t afraid of our active participation in public life or public debate. A fundamental part of the democratic process is the welcome participation of the people.

In between sessions, incumbents villainize our community to manufacture hysteria from anti-LGBTQIA+ primary voters and donors. The cruel impact of the legislation passed and policies enacted - policies like investigations of loving families by Child Protective Services - can be measured not just in the number of Texans now living in fear of their State but in the number of Texans now living in fear in their communities. And this is especially true at the Capitol this session.

Around the Capitol

Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers have openly targeted peaceful LGBTQIA+ advocates throughout the session, while largely ignoring, at times even celebrating groups in support of anti-trans legislation. Texans who came to the State Capitol on May 2 to oppose the bill banning essential health care for trans youth were met with violence, intimidation, and arrests. DPS officers harmed transgender people of color, caused severe injuries, and aggressively pushed peaceful protesters from the Capitol. Since that day, harassment against our community continues to increase. There has been a surge in the number of state troopers at the Capitol, yet we feel less safe. Members of law enforcement have repeatedly followed transgender leaders into the restroom. Texas lawmakers have posted pictures of members of our community on social media with messages of ridicule.

On Monday, May 15, a billboard truck displaying messages of LGBTQIA+ equality and affirmation was circling the Capitol. The driver was harassed so aggressively by several protesters - one of whom was armed - that the effort was cut short for safety reasons.

In private life - our homes, doctors’ offices, and schools

Many LGBTQIA+ Texans, especially those who have taken an active role in the legislative process have received death threats, threatening deliveries, and online harassment. Every single person who has registered against a bill, testified at the legislature, or spoken publicly at a school board meeting or public event has had to decide whether or not they are willing to endure the threats and harassment that inevitably follow. Championing equality in Texas has always been an act of courage but the anti-LGBTQIA+ hate machine has made it even more dangerous.

Members of the All in For Equality Coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Texas Freedom Network, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas.

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