New texas bills are threatening gender identity expression and voting rights

by Molly Dye
October 28th, 2021

The Texas law preventing women from seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy gained popular media attention last month, but not much attention has been drawn to other recent Texas bills that threaten gender identity and voting rights.

In the past several months, Texas has introduced specific bills targeting transgender youth in terms of how they are addressed by teachers at school, restroom access, what sports teams they are allowed to participate in, and more. In addition to bills targeting control over gender expression, Texas also passed a restrictive voting bill that prevents 24-hour voting which over 140,000 people in Harris County, a county with over 60% Black and Hispanic voters, used during the 2020 election.

Though some of these bills have not yet garnered popular attention from high-profile legislators and voters in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has made it a point to push for restricting transgender minors’ access and agency in sports participation. He has cited it as a priority in one of the state’s legislative sessions.

In September, the Texas senate passed a bill that would require students K-12 to compete as the sex they were assigned on their birth certificate despite their current gender identity and preference.

The high number of bills restricting transgender youth rights, whether they have been passed at the senate and house level or not, presents a larger problem that threatens the safety and well-being of transgender citizens. The rhetoric and language surrounding transgender rights that has become so present in local and state government could impact attitudes and behaviors toward LGBTQ+ individuals, not only in Texas, but around the country.

19th news reports, that there is a correlation between the increase in anti-trans bills and the increase in trans homicides in the past year, with 56% of transgender homicides taking place in states that put forward anti-trans bills.

Furthermore, the recent bill in Texas surrounding voting rights passed in August represents one of the most restrictive bills of its kind. As aforementioned, the bill prevents 24-hour voting, as well as drive-through voting.

Along with these restrictions, not all Texans would be able to receive absentee ballots. It also would prevent the use of tents, garages, and mobile units as temporary locations for voting, and would implement new registration and identification requirements for those who vote by mail.

There are currently several bills that not only discriminate against and prevent gender identity expression for transgender citizens, but also enacted bills that make it increasingly more difficult for Texan voters, particularly BIPOC in certain counties, from voting with ease. These bills present a challenge and threat to equal opportunities in Texas and the trend of such discriminatory bills also pose a threat to neighboring states which may also introduce similar legislation and impact marginalized communities across the country.