If you have been following any of the Chief Delphi posts that have been floating around, you may be aware that the state of Texas is not a safe place for LGBTQ+ Students. Here is a condensed list of all of the current bills, news links, current laws, and, anything else that pertains to LGBTQ+ rights in the State of Texas. This post is going to highlight some of the bills that are currently in the Texas State Legislature. There are currently 57 anti-transgender bills proposed for this legislative session alone. Here is a map with all anti-transgender bills inside of the United States with each of them listed

Content Warning: This blog post contains a lot of transphobia, transphobic and anti-LGBTQ+ laws and rhetoric as it talks about the current bill and laws of the state of Texas and goes into specific details for some of them.

Current Bills Inside Texas State Legislature

HB 4378

Let us start with Texas House Bill 4378. This was the first bill I talked about in the Chief Delphi Thread that talks about transgender students and mentors not being safe at the FIRST Championship. So let’s go through the basics of the bill (most of this will be copied and pasted from my reply in the thread).

The bill defines a drag performance as:

A “Drag performance” means a performance in which a performer exhibits a gender that is different than the performer’s gender recorded at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs in a lascivious manner before an audience.

So what does this mean for transgender and gender non-conforming people? Given how it is currently worded, this means that anyone who is wearing clothing that is different from their assigned gender at birth (at least in a Western context) is defined as a drag performer under this bill. This just doesn’t mean bad news for transgender people, it’s bad news for anyone who wears clothing differing from their gender. Anyone like volunteers would have to go by their assigned gender at birth or potentially be targeted by this bill because it would be considered a performance.

So what happens if you are caught doing a “drag performance” (defined by this bill) in front of a minor? Well, the bill states this:

Sec.100B.002. LIABILITY FOR DRAG PERFORMANCE IN PRESENCE OF MINOR: An individual who attends a drag performance as a minor may bring an action against a person who knowingly promotes, conducts, or participates as a performer in the drag performance that occurs before an audience that includes the minor if: the performance violates the prevailing standard in the adult community for content suitable for minors, and the person fails to take reasonable steps to restrict access to the performance by minors.

This means anyone can file a lawsuit against a person who is a “drag performer” (as defined by this bill) for “performing” (as defined by this bill) in front of a minor (which would be most students at the FIRST Championship).

How long can a person wait to file? 10 years:

Sec. 100B.003. LIMITATIONS. A claimant may bring an action under this chapter not later than the 10th anniversary of the date the cause of action accrues.

What can happen when an action is filed:

Sec. 100B.004. DAMAGES. If a claimant prevails in an action brought under this chapter, the court shall award: actual damages, including damages for psychological, emotional, economic, and physical harm; reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in bringing the action; and statutory damages of $5,000

This bill just straight up creates bounty hunters in Texas that can sue “drag performers” (as defined by this bill) for “performing” (singing, dancing, other stuff like that). What does this mean for FIRST? Anyone who is doing anything defined as a performance in this bill and isn’t dressed in their assigned gender at birth clothing could be sued by a private citizen.

This bill has only been filed so far and hasn’t gotten out of committee. However, given how Texas has been in the past couple of years, I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if something similar is passed by the Texas State Legislature. If this bill in its current format was passed, it would go into effect on September 1st, 2023. Texas has already passed a similar law with its abortion ban so I wouldn’t be shocked if something like this passed for transgender people.

Bill HB 672

The next bill I will be talking about is HB 672, which redefines child abuse to include giving hormones to transgender children. This one is extremely simple to explain. This bill would redefine child abuse to include a subsection where giving hormones and/or puberty blockers to a child even if the child has consented to it.

The text below is directly from the bill:

(xiv) administering or supplying, or consenting to or assisting in the administration or supply of, puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child, other than an intersex child, for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment; or (xv) performing or consenting to the performance of surgery or another medical procedure on a child, other than an intersex child, for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment; and (B)does not include an act described by Subparagraph (xiv) if the act is the dispensing or delivery of a drug in accordance with Subtitle J, Title 3, Occupations Code, by person licensed under that subtitle… the person administers or supplies, or consents to or assists in the administering or supplying of, a puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment; or (5)the person performs or consents to the performance of surgery or another medical procedure on a child for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment. (c-2)The presumptions provided by Subsections (c-1)(4) and (5) do not apply to conduct described by those subsections that involves an intersex child.

TL;DR, if a transgender child inside of Texas has hormone treatment administered to them by anyone, those people are subject to being charged with child abuse. This is quite bad because there have been countless papers about HRT and the consensus is that it helps with mental health in teenagers. We were all teenagers once, and we all know how tough middle school and high school is. A good way to describe what transgender teenagers feel is gender dysphoria, the feeling of not being yourself due to how you were born. This can come in many ways of dysphoria like not liking your voice, physical appearance, hairstyle, etc. Not every transgender or gender non-conforming person has gender dysphoria and it isn’t a requirement for being transgender or gender non-conforming.

From personal experience, gender dysphoria just sucks to have, it feels like I am trapped in a body that I don’t like and that I am stuck with forever, that I am not truly myself.

HB 4961

The next bill I will be covering is HB 4961, which makes school districts notify the parents of a student if they try to express themselves as a different gender as their one assigned at birth. This one is another easy one to explain. This bill would make it so that schools must inform parents within 24 hours that their child is transgender or gender non-conforming if they exhibit any behavior about it which just outs that child as transgender or gender non-conforming.

The text below is directly from the bill:

Sec. 26.0086. RIGHT TO INFORMATION CONCERNING GENDER IDENTITY. (a) A parent is entitled to information concerning the gender identity of the parent’s child. (b) Not later than 24 hours after an employee of a school district or open-enrollment charter school discovers information indicating that a student enrolled in the district or school is or is considering identifying, through appearance, expression, or behavior, as a sex other than the biological sex the student was assigned at birth, the district or school shall notify the student’s parent of the information discovered.

Here is an example. Let’s say I was in high school and I learned that I was non-binary and that I wanted to go by a new name (for instance Nova). Under current law, I could have that private info with me and my school district and not have my parents know which in some cases is a good thing because I might not have supportive parents and don’t want that info to be shared. Under this new law/provision, school districts would have to notify my parents no matter what within 24 hours. They would have to notify my parents that I wanted to be called something else and might notify them that I am calling myself non-binary. This would allow for things like conversion therapy (which is still legal in Texas) to happen to me if my parents were not supportive or just straight-up kick me out of the house.

HB 319

The final bill I will be covering is HB 319 which allows for the discrimination of transgender and gender non-conforming people trying to get medical help. This bill just straight up allows for discrimination inside of health care if the health care provider does not want to render services to a person if it conflicts with their belief, religious faith, moral philosophy, or ethical position.

The text below is directly from the bill:

“Conscience” means a sincerely held set of moralconvictions arising from: (A) a belief in and relation to God; (B) a religious faith or spiritual practice; or (C) a moral philosophy or ethical position, without regard to whether the philosophy or position is related to a religious faith. ……Sec. 161.702. RIGHT TO DECLINE PARTICIPATION IN HEALTH CARE SERVICE FOR REASONS OF CONSCIENCE; CONSTRUCTION OF SUBCHAPTER. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may decline to participate in a health care service for reasons of conscience.

This just allows for discrimination of transgender and gender non-conforming people inside of health care if it goes against someone’s moral philosophy or ethical position. Meaning that if I or any other transgender or gender non-conforming person got hurt at Champs or anywhere in Texas and needed to go to the hospital, there’s a chance I could be denied help and would have to wait to have a doctor comfortable to work with me. This bill does not allow for denial of emergency care or life-sustaining treatment however, in Sec. 161.703, physicians and health care providers have immunity from civil or criminal liability if they decline to participate due to reasons of conscience.

Now, these are only 4 of the 57 proposed anti-transgender bills so far for this legislative session. All of these could or could not pass, I don’t know and won’t know until they get put into a vote. However, I do know all 4 of these potential laws would go into effect for the 2024 and 2025 FIRST World Championship. All of these bills if they passed would make Texas an even less safe state for trans and GnC people, especially ones who are students and are in FIRST.

I have also found a list of anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been filed inside the Texas State Legislature. The current count is 140 bills. The list of all of these bills can be found on the Equality Texas website.

LGBTQ+ Equality Map

Now here’s the fun part, time for a lightning round of current LGBTQ+ policies inside of Texas. The information I am referring to can be found here. So let us set some basic background, the LGBTQ+ equality map puts Texas at a 0 out of 42.5 points on a tally for LGBTQ+ Laws and Policies. Let’s go through some of them that will affect transgender students, mentors, alumni, and, volunteers.

  • No overarching non-discrimination clauses for the state
  • A “Don’t Say Gay” Law is currently in effect in Texas for school systems
  • No hate crime laws covering transgender and gender non-conforming people
  • No ban on transgender or gay panic defense

All 4 of these laws and policies will affect LGBTQ+ people attending the FIRST World Championship. These are laws that are currently in effect which means all of these will apply for the 2023 FIRST World Championship and onwards.

Wrap Up

So what can we do? Well, there are a lot of things we can do for the 2023 FIRST World Championship and also for upcoming years that will be held in Houston. A good starting point would be my blog post about how to support transgender and gender non-conforming people at the FIRST World Championship. All of these suggestions were given by the community and will be continually updated with any more suggestions I get. We as a community can stand together and help our LGBTQ+ peers, showing them that we are here for them and we are here to help. We are stronger together and we need to show FIRST and everyone else that the FIRST community will come together, even if FIRST decides to not do anything about something.

Thank you for your time and I hope to see y’all soon!

– Nova Rudy (Your Local Themby of Chaos)