Transgender, Non-Binary, and Intersex People and their Allies offered the following testimony to the Texas State Senate committee of State Affairs regarding SB6.
Additional Testimonies will be added as they are sent to us. Check back!
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Melinda Hunter 2017-02-07
I am the mother of an 11 year old girl. I am the mother of a manly male teenager. I am the mother of their transgender sister. It is the job of the legislature to protect all my children.
This bill addresses a non-problem. There are no reports of a transgender person assaulting anyone in school bathrooms. There are already laws on the books to stop and punish assault no matter where it occurs. Transgender children fear using the restroom in gender segregated spaces far more than any child should. They fear being laughed at, teased, shamed, punished, spit on, beaten, or killed. All of these outcomes have happened to people who aren’t easily labeled as boy or girl multiple times. These acts were mostly committed by people who were scared of someone who is different. And people who just wanted to bully. This bill legislates fear, discrimination and bullying.
My daughter spent her 8th grade year waiting to get home to use the restroom. Now she waits until the end of the day when she can get to the single stall rooms on the far side of campus.
I don’t know if y’all have seen Hidden Figures, but I spent that entire movie needing to go pee.
The same thing that character faced is what this bill would do to transgendered children.
Tracy King 2017-02-08
Madam Chair, and members of the committee, my name is Tracy King from Austin, and I am here to testify in opposition to SB6.
I am the proud mother of a 15 year old transgender son. And his very existence is threatened by this bill.
My son’s transition has not been easy for him – or for our family. We have worked extremely hard for years – alongside therapists, doctors, and his school counselors to make sound choices for him. Ones that do not rob him of his self-esteem or love of life. It has not been easy, but our son has found a home – and a measure of acceptance in his high school, with friends.
Your bill would force him to face potential humiliation and violence. He looks and behaves like any young teen boy. He loves playing percussion in the school band, drawing and special effects make up. He is, in a very real sense, a typical 15-year-old boy.
His high school teachers have honored him by calling him by his new name. They address him in his identified gender. His classmates respect his choice of which bathroom to use. He’s one of lucky ones.
All of that can be erased with this bill.
Because you see, it’s not about which bathroom or locker room he uses. It’s about acceptance. Without that, he could be one of the 41% of trans or gender non-conforming people who, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA, attempt suicide.
As a mother, I plead with you – don’t undo the good work that schools are doing to foster acceptance and respect for these CHILDREN. For MY child.
These children – as much as any other – deserve our protection and love. And they deserve to be able to go to the bathroom, just like anyone else.
Ethan Evans – 2017-02-07
I want to begin by thanking y’all for giving me a chance to have my voice heard today. I speak to you today as a public school employee and a transgender man. This bill not only affects me, but the students with whom I work.
Though you cannot see me, please take a moment to picture me: a slightly short, beginning to bald, burly – yet pudgy – lumberjack. With full beard and rumbling baritone, you would never second-guess my manhood.
Isn’t it odd that that first thing the doctor says when we are born is “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” ? Instead of taking a moment to praise the life that was made, the first place we look is to our children’s privates … to see what is private … to determine by looks alone who we will become. Though the doctor opened my legs and labelled me female, my family can tell you since I was in the womb I knew that was wrong. Every time the doctor took a sonogram, I was covering my privates – saying this is not what makes me who I am, so stop looking. When I came out as trans, my family looked back on those sonograms and realized I had been telling them all along, genitalia does not equal gender.
So here is the question that we face: what is a boy and what is a girl. One thing I learned playing with my sister’s hand-me-down Barbies (that I really only wanted to chew on and otherwise destroy) is that it is not a vagina or penis that makes Barbie or Ken a girl or boy – they did not have either. What makes us a boy or girl is what is in our hearts.
So if we do not need to look to in Ken’s pants to know he is boy, why must you look in mine to know if I am? I am a boy because that is what is in my heart. I am a boy going into the boy’s bathroom.
Isn’t it odd that one of the first things we learn in school, is that bathroom time is time to take care of business. We do not look at others while they pee and poo. We do not chat with our friends. We go in, we go, we wash our hands, we get out.
Everyday I use the men’s room with no quarrell. That is because I follow school rules. You only take care of your business. You don’t look at others while they pee and poo; you don’t chat with your friends in the bathroom.
Should this law pass, bathroom anxiety will be a new trend. I will have to fear being noticed as I enter the bathroom – because while I don’t fit the idea of what a woman should look like (because I am not a woman), my pass to enter (birth certificate) will fit.
Every time I go to a stall to relax and let go, I will have to obsessively check that the stall door is locked, that it is really locked, that a good slam will not loosen the lock, that the stall door is locked … I will have to obsessively check that the cracks in the door are not too large, do not line up with the toilet, are not awkwardly located, are not too large … I will have to obsessively check how high the bottom of the door is. I will have to obsessively check how tall the door is. I will have to obsessively check how big the space between the stall wall and back wall is. I will have to obsessively check that there is toilet paper. And when I hear children, I will have to hope their parents have taught them not to crawl under stranger’s stalls.
And it will not only be myself and other trans people who will experience bathroom anxiety. Women will now have to fear men being required to enter their sacred space. Men will now experience shock as women are required to enter their haven.
But this law is not only about me. It is about protecting women and girls. It is about protecting them from men entering their bathroom – entering their safe space and assaulting them (even though there is no case of trans people having ever been perpetrators of these kinds of crimes). By enacting this law, I will be forced to enter that space. Imagine the shock and horror students will face when I, a burly bearded lumberjack, enters the women’s restrooms. A high school girl, trying to look cute in the bathroom mirror for Instagram or Snapchat, shouldn’t have to worry about a lurking lumberjack entering/exiting a stall. I would imagine that photo will get a different kind of attention. I would imagine that girl will no longer feel safe in that space. How would you feel to be caught in that situation?
But this law is not only about me, and non-trans girls. It is about those young students who would be harassed for being different, for being trans, for existing in public space. You all say that men and boys are aggressors that should be kept away from women and girls, yet you wish to throw women/girls into their den. A trans girl being forced into a boys room, is throwing a girl into the lion’s den. There is no protection for her. You did not save her from the aggression and hate you claim this bill would protect her from.
But this law is not only about me, and all women and girls. It is about those who might be too butch, or too femme, or neither. A woman wearing a baggy sweater, or baggy pants, or a short haircut might be kicked from a woman’s restroom just because she didn’t wear a dress and fit what someone thought a woman should look like. Then where is she to go? Because she is not a man. A man who acts too femme, or wears makeup, or is clean shaven, or has long hair, might be kicked from a men’s restroom just because he didn’t “man up” and fit what someone thought a man should look like. Then where is he to go? Because he is not a woman. A person who does not conform to stereotypical gender ideas, or does not have stereotypical genitalia might be kicked from both because they do not fit either. What do they do when there is no unisex bathroom (like my school)? Where is their place to relax and let go?
But this law is not only about me, and all women and girls, and everyone else. This is about cops, who now have to stand guard at every public bathroom, who now have to check every birth certificate for everyone who enters. Have we budgeted for these bathroom police? Surely we would not take cops off the streets, to monitor a bathroom like a movie theater usher checking tickets…
But let’s say that is all fine with you: Forcing men into a woman’s bathroom and scaring women. Forcing women into a man’s bathroom to allow them to be abused. Forcing those who do not fit a gender stereotype possibly to go without accommodations, and get UTIs for having to wait to get home. Paying for extra police to check birth certificates at bathroom entrances.
Let me ask you this: Who wants to bring such a sensitive legal document (such as a birth certificate) into the bathroom? I don’t want to bring even my school bag into that place, let alone a sensitive piece of paper. We can barely trust ourselves with our phones in there; we drop them in the toilet or sink more than we like to admit. So how can we trust ourselves to keep our birth certificate safe while we go, when we can’t even take care of other things we cherish? This law would make us all carry that paper as much as our phones.
Let us think about that horrific image for a moment: Drop that birth certificate in the toilet and how much time will it take you to get a replacement? One can’t always just go down to the City Secretary and get a new one. Get that paper wet and illegible and you will have to hold your business until a new one comes in the mail. That’s 8 to 10 hours a day for who knows how long?
In the end, this whole bathroom war is pointless. It does not save anyone for harassment. This law is more likely cause an uptick in harassment and hate crimes. Everyone knows the bathroom is for going, not for showing. But if we force individuals to enter the wrong bathroom merely because some flimsy paper says they should enter there, we are forcing them to show more than is decent or moral. Privates should stay private. So don’t ask because no one should have to tell.
Cheryl Nelson 2017-02-08
I am a cis woman.
Dr. Colt Keo-Meier 2017-02-07
INTRO: My name is Dr. Colt Keo-Meier and I oppose SB6. I am a Texas licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Houston and Galveston. I graduated summa cum laude from Rice University and attended the University of Houston for graduate school. I am now in medical school at UTMB.
My area of expertise is transgender health. I am a past board member of WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health www.wpath.org which is the international society started in the 1970’s that sets the standards of care for treatment of transgender patients. I am on the committee for the 8th version of the SOC. I co-founded the Gender Infinity organization, which puts on our state’s largest annual transgender health conference since 2011.
I am also a devout Christian. It is my firm conviction that God created me to care for God’s transgender children of all ages. My daily work is to keep these people alive and safe.
DEVELOPMENTAL: A person’s sex is composed of their chromosomes, hormones, internal genitalia, and external genitalia. We only use external genitalia as the marker for assigning sex at birth. One’s gender identity is their sense of self as a boy, girl, both, or neither. For most people, their sex and gender identity align, except for transgender people, whose gender identity does not align with their sex.
Every person has a gender identity – we’ve known this from developmental psychology research since the 1970’s. Gender identity develops between ages 2 and 4. Research has found a biological basis of gender identity in brain connectivity. Some examples listed here:
STATE OF CRISIS: The current state of transgender health is in crisis.
Transgender women of color are harassed, assaulted, and killed just for existing.
According to research, this trans people have the highest rate of suicide attempts than any other population.
Research has also found causal links between the level of acceptance of transgender people and their long term health and well-being.
For example – a transgender person who is rejected by their family is not affirmed in their gender identity and likely told that they are confused, sick, depraved, unsafe around children, and beyond salvation is far more likely to attempt suicide than one who is accepted by their family and friends.
Two of the predictors of suicide in transgender people are non-affirmation and feeling like they don’t belong. Non-affirmation is when a transgender person is told that they are confused and do not know who they are.
TREATMENT: The international SOC are well-established and direct providers to provide affirmative care. We affirm patients’ gender identity. This practice has been found to save lives– we see sharp reductions in suicidality as patients transition to live in accordance with their true gender identity in ALL environments. I have witnessed miracles as these people are given new hope and new life walking in the truth of who they were created to be. These social gender transitions are part of the medically necessary interventions. Part of a social transition is being able to use restrooms and facilities that match one’s gender identity – just like everyone else does.
BATHROOMS/SB6 issues: This bill makes it impossible for my patients to follow doctor’s orders as they would not be allowed to use restrooms since their birth certificates list them as a different sex.
Most transgender Texans avoided using a public restrooms because they are afraid of being confronted. Over 1/3 limited the amount that they ate or drank to avoid using the restroom.
This leads to increases in dehydration, urinary tract infections, constipation, and kidney damage.
Psychologically – this bill is non-affirming– it communicates to transgender people that they do not belong. These are the two largest predictors of suicide. Quite literally, this bill is killing my patients.
Schools, hospitals, and several cities across the US have created policies to keep everyone safe in restrooms and include transgender people.
There has never been one reported issue of a transgender person attempting to harm another person in a restroom. Transgender people are the most likely to be assaulted in restrooms. If you are concerned about the safety of women in restrooms, you realize that this bill does nothing to protect them – the Texas penal code already has laws making it illegal for anyone to enter a restroom with the intention of harming another person – regardless of the genders of anyone involved.
See: Texas Penal Code Section 21.08 — Indecent Exposure, Section 21.07 — Public Lewdness, Section 21.16 — Voyeurism, Section 21.15 — Invasive Video Recording, Section 20.01 and 20.02 — Unlawful Restraint (formerly False Imprisonment)
Some say this bill has nothing to do with transgender people – they can get their birth certificate changed. This is nearly impossible. It costs over $300 and in nearly every county in Texas, judges deny transgender people from changing their gender marker – even if they have a letter from their doctor. Less than 10% of transgender people have all of their ID documents updated.
PERSONAL: Transgender-based discrimination affects me personally as I am a transgender man who made my gender transition over 10 years ago. When I came out to my TKD instructors where I was a volunteer for 20 years, they told me I was no longer welcome to be on the mat at the same time as children.
If you pass this bill, my gender identity will further be invalidated as I will not able to continue attending medical school in Texas for the following reason: I would be banned from using the restroom as I would not be able to enter men’s restrooms legally anymore AND, look at me, I would not be able to safely enter women’s restrooms either.
If I am not able to use men’s restrooms and changing facilities, there’s no way I can attend school. God has called me to serve transgender children, SB6 gets in the way of my ability to serve God AND my patients.
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With God, all things are possible, ALL things – including creating transgender people in God’s image and likeness. I would like to close with the Jesus’s last words addressed at all of the people who are pro-SB6, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” May God have mercy on you. I urge you to join me and DO NO HARM by opposing SB6. If you vote for this bill, you tell me and my people that we do not belong in Texas. We are one body, one body in Christ, and we ALL belong here.
Samantha Foss 2017-02-08 (Message to the community)
I can hear myself playing back in my head as I told person after person to not get discouraged yesterday. “It will pass in the committee, pass through senate and we will kill it in the house.” It will pass, pass, die. It passed, it will pass, it will die. I sit here feeling like I’ve felt a thousand break ups in a single night – feet sore from running, heart sore from one too many blows, head throbbing from crying incessantly for all different reasons.
After 19 hours in the Capitol yesterday, I am still processing everything that happened. We left at almost 3 am this morning knowing the fate of SB6, but it feels surreal. How do our legislators put business before people? How did they not fall deeply in care for all of the people who spoke yesterday? Did they not hear when we spoke of trans youth being 8x more likely to attempt suicide? Did they not hear that those rates will double like in North Carolina if this passes? Were they not listening as people told their life experiences as tangible proof of what hate rhetoric creates?
For 19 hours we listened. We listened to hours of invited testimony flown in from other states and for the bill that do not know our people. We waited as they ridiculed, minimized, and demonized us. We stayed and told 13 hours of our own truth into early morning hours. We were people cuddled in blankets, lovers arms, holding friends hands, quiet in another room watching a livestream because we didn’t get to be in the same room as the hearing. We were there for our family. I heard stories of partners witnessing the suicide of a loved one, people recanting horrors of assaults due their identity. I listened to ciswomen tell the truth that they fear not a transwomen, but the cismen who have raped them and pinned them down and took pieces of them. I listened to parents sob as they feared for their kids lives – 7, 9, 24, ageless – children. I watched kids hold their parents as they told their fears. I watched kids speak up and plea for their safety.
This is not hypothetical; this is reality. This is real humans who get UTI’s from holding their pee for 9 hours at school. This is friends who have been attacked for using the bathroom that matches their genitals but not their presentation like these legislators want. This is people afraid to go out to a restaurant because what if they eat too much and need to relieve themselves? How did the committee not hear this? How does a possible detriment to business equate to inequity?
I’m not sure how this can happen to us. I can tell you what an honor it was to be there yesterday and this morning and how thankful I am to witness such dedicated humans who love one another. How many times I heard yesterday, “I will fight until my last breath for the rights of vulnerable people.” I was able to listen to hundreds of people tell me their personal story and their dreams yesterday as I helped guide them around how the day would go, I was able to offer counseling to people who needed to talk through things. I was able to get more hugs than some people get in a year.
I just want us all to know how incredibly powerful we are and how much we can fight this. This is not the end of it, and we will rise higher and higher. I know we’re disheveled and exhausted, but we are better than they are on their best day. We have to keep fighting against that bill, sb242, hb1923, hb1805, sb92 and so many others. Our freedom, our safety, and our bodies are under attack. These listed are just lgbtq bills, but women and children and immigrant lives are also being destroyed. We are feeling it daily. We have to do more for our community and our community is there.
No matter how they try to skew it, please trust me that we have hundreds of thousands Texan people on our side – yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are not alone and we are not backing down. This is our lives and we will not let them kill our kids, or push a bill that will have our kids kill themselves. I will fight until my last breath for you, like I heard so many times yesterday. We’ve got each other and they can never, ever, take that. I love you.
Fran Watson 2017-02-07
Hello Committee Members,
My name is Fran Watson. I am the President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, a native Houstonian and a constituent of SD17, Senator Huffman’s District. I am here to speak in opposition of Senate Bill 6, the Privacy Protection Act.
SB6 is simply a solution in search of a problem, as the supporters state this bill will protect women and girls from predators going into the restroom to do harm. However, as the committee already knows, especially Senator Huffman who is a former prosecutor and criminal court judge, there are already laws on the books that govern illegal behavior, not only in bathrooms but in ALL spaces. Cities like San Antonio, Dallas, Austin (since 2004), and Forth Worth have nondiscrimination laws that include gender identity in public spaces and have not seen increases in public safety incidents. Therefore, the issue is the crime itself, not the location.
SB6 singles out Transgender Texans, who are already the most vulnerable and targeted population in the LGBTQ community. It is unnecessary, as it targets Texans who simply want to live, work, and be a part of society like everyone else. Texans, who frankly, already worry about safely getting home at night. To put it in perspective, as I sit and testify before the committee, family and friends are mourning the following people:
Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, JoJo Striker, Jaquarrius Holland (Brown), KeKe Collier, Chyna Gibson, and Ciara McElveen. Seven Transwomen who have been murdered since 2017 began, and today is March 7.
SB6 is based on hypotheticals that already have laws on the books to handle said hypotheticals. These womens’ lives were violently taken based on transphobia and not a hypothetical.
Senate Bill 6 is government-sanctioned transphobia and discrimination, which is not a Texas value.
So Vote “No.” Thank you.
Peter Haley 2017-02-07
Members of the committee, my name is Peter Haley, I am a resident of Travis County, and I’m here to testify my strong opposition to Senate Bill 6. Before moving to Texas, I was born and raised a North Carolinian and I have seen first hand the effects HB2 has had on North Carolina’s economy and social state. Like me, my younger brother is also transgender and works as a public school band director in North Carolina. When HB2 passed, he was forced out of his job and required to relocate due to aggression from his peers and the ignorance of the parent’s of his students fueled by the hateful and discriminatory rhetoric encouraged by HB2. But if you asked him who was most affected by these inconveniences, he would humbly answer without hesitation: his students. Having to uproot himself in the middle of the school year is never something he would have willing chosen. It left his students without a teacher, without an amazing, talented, and supportive role model, and without a stable school environment. This bill affects us all.
The irony has not escaped me that as a state that notoriously and often takes stances opposite of women’s rights and body autonomy, you would try to pass this bill off as a women’s privacy issue. Transwomen are women and this bill does not protect their privacy. Although it has been YEARS since I have used a women’s restroom, I very clearly remember them all having private, separate stalls. Every. Single. One. This is not a women’s privacy issue, which makes me think, it must be a school and transgender student issue. It has already been noted that 40% of trans youth will attempt suicide and sadly this statistic doesn’t include the percentage of youth that have succeeded. If you are concerned at ALL with the safety of our youth, and I’m not convinced that all of you are, we should start by trying to lower that outrageous and heart-breaking statistic. Because as it stands right now, transgender youth are more preoccupied with how they are going to kill or harm themselves than trying to assault their friends and peers, of which there is ZERO evidence. Which leads me to believe this bill is neither about women NOR youth.
So, what is this bill about? Not women’s privacy and not youth safety or betterment. So, what then? Fear-mongering? Miseducation? Some fantastical scenario where a cisgender man, like many of you up there, goes into a PUBLIC space to assault someone and plays dress up to get away with it? It just doesn’t work like that. We already have laws against assault in and out of bathrooms that apply to EVERYONE and putting on a different outfit does not make you transgender. On top of everything else, this bill is utterly unenforceable because unless you are our chosen physicians, you are not entitled to know what any of our genitalia looks like. Perversion comes in many forms and requiring a public proving of what kind of sexual organs I have is the most perverted thing I’ve faced in a lifetime. It is disgusting, it is discriminatory, and frankly it’s embarrassing that hundreds of us needed to come here today and explain that to you. Thank you.
Stephania Kanitsch 2017-02-07
Mr. or Madam Chair,
My name is Stephania Kanitsch from Horseshoe Bay, about one hour west of Austin. I’m here to testify in opposition to SB6.
At 4 I knew there was something different. At 12 I realized what it was when there was a news article on a transgender woman. Only the 1960’s and 1970’s were no time to come out as LGBTQ. I came out and started my transition a little over 3 years ago.
Even with my name and gender corrected to what it should have been at birth, I still find it hard and scary to use the correct (female) restroom. I however find it harder to use the restroom that does not comply to my gender as sexual assault and worse is common for transgender females.
I also have Stage 3 kidney disease from Lithium poisoning. When I limit my water intake so I don’t have to use the restroom, or hold it till I find a friendly restroom doesn’t help my kidneys.
No matter what people say, passing this bill will have financial consequences. For a state that claims it is business friendly I don’t understand why we would want that reputation ruined. Just look what has happened to North Carolina.
Please be on the right side of history and vote no on SB6.
Pronouns she, her, hers
Stephanie Martinez 2017-02-07
I’m here to testify in opposition to SB6.
In This bill you are determining my sex based on birth certificate, and that is used to determine what you feel is the appropriate restroom for me. I don’t currently carry my birth certificate. I couldn’t imagine being asked to do so, but if I did have to present it you would see my birth certificate still lists me as male even though I’ve been happily living as a woman for 25 years 21 of them here in the great state of Texas, and I’d suddenly be relegated to the men’s room in many facilities and have to ask if I could use the women’s room in others.
Unfortunately the financial costs and other issues have made it difficult until recently for me to get such changed as is often the case for transgender people and just as you speak of patchwork policies that prompted the need for SB6 so too are the rules and requirements of changing your birth certificate different from state to state.
Sb6 as I understand it seeks to remove non discrimination ordinances passed at a city level that I currently am covered by and protects my right to public accommodations. You talked this morning about this bill being needed because of the patchwork policies you saw starting. if this bill passes it would create another patchwork issue as I have to navigate further if the building I am in is a facility that falls under the rules of SB6 which in austin could be many, if I have to ask an employee if I can use the women’s room and create uncomfortable conversations outing myself, or simply hold it at the detriment to my health until I get home.
I’ve heard it said several times today that since the transgender community is a minority that our needs and rights don’t matter as much as others. We may be a minority but we are human. Human rights should never be up for a vote whether the general public or within our legislature.
Thank you for listening to us today and I hope you will remember our testimony as you make your final decisions.
Mo Cortez 2017-02-07
I am the survivor of nonconsensual sex changes. I was subjected to this at the age of 5 as a result of an anonymous caller turning my mother into the CPS stating that she was raising a little boy as a girl. You see, I was born with a hole in my heart and with an intersex condition where I was born with ambiguous genitals and with an insensitivity to testosterone. So, they removed my phallus as it was too small to be considered typical for a male, and too big to be considered female; and they also removed my testes.
Intersex if you are not familiar with what that is; is when someone is born with a body that has an anatomical, chromosomal, or hormonal difference that usually lands somewhere in between what is usually considered typical for a male or female. The old statistic for the frequency of intersex births is 1/2000; but recent research coming out of Europe now states that that number is 1/150 births. So, if you know someone with red hair or green eyes that would give you an example of how many intersex there are.
If SB6 were to pass, this would open up a pandora’s box. Intersex people in California and New York have successfully been able to change their birth certificate to “I”. So, if someone from one of those states were to visit or move to Texas, they might have cause for litigation against the state as “Intersex” spaces doesn’t exist. Let’s not also forget that others across the nation have changed their gender marker to “non-binary”. One key thing to note is that some intersex people are read as trans people when in fact they are not; and they will be impacted by this.
If SB6 were to pass, I know that some intersex Texans would be willing to seek legal counsel to attempt to change their birth certificate to intersex.
Masha-Leah Davis, 2017-03-06
Honorable Joan Huffman and members of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, my name is Masha-Leah (מָשׁה לֵאָה) Davis and I am a transgender mother with a transgender son. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today and I hope to present an argument that has hitherto not been presented as to why SB-6 shouldn’t be passed.
In my humble opinion, much of the animus towards the transgender community is based upon Religious Teachings from the Scriptures. While my arguments may not be persuasive to everyone because the Scriptures can be interpreted in many ways, partly because there are words in the scriptures which we just do not know their actual meaning. We have to infer from a context that we think existed at the time but are not sure. Additionally, we just don’t always know how to interpret such ancient writings.
This issue is analogous to our Constitution; we keep running into questions as to what the text of the Constitution means and that’s why we have a Supreme Court to opine on how to interpret such. And different Judges with different backgrounds and values don’t always interpret it the same way. So, who can definitively say what Scriptures says about LGBT issues? Indeed, that’s why some religious denominations are accepting and others are not.
To make my arguments more universal to both Jews and Christians, when I use the word “Scriptures”, I am referring to the Jewish Bible (Torah) and the Christian Bible (Old Testament) that we both have in common. Note that the submitted version of this testimony contains many references to the sources cited herein.
In Scriptures, Genesis describes how G-d separated Adam, the first human being into two genders. Genesis 21:23 says, “And G-d took one of Adam’s sides and built the side that G-d had taken from man into a woman, and G-d brought her to man. This one shall be called woman because this one was taken from man.”
Accordingly, you can certainly make the case that both Adam and Eve were transgender. Adam is clearly both male and female prior to Eve’s creation, but is solely male afterwards. That would make Adam a trans man. And Eve is a trans woman having been created from Adam’s feminine side.
There is no actual word in the Scriptures that adequately describes transgender people. And why would we expect the Scriptures to have such a concept? The very word “transgender” and it’s meaning wasn’t coined until the 1970s.
However, the Scriptures does enumerate six different genders. The Mishna, which is a collection of early oral interpretations of the Scriptures compiled about AD 200, describes categories that are in-between male and female and categories that refer to ambiguous or indeterminate genders. Indeed, G-d created a wide range of biological sex variations that go well beyond the simple binary of male and female.
The most common gender identity discussed in the Scriptures are called “saris” in Hebrew and “eunuch” in English. I prefer the Hebrew word saris since the word eunuch has taken on the connotation of a castrated male. A eunuch in Biblical times didn’t necessarily mean a castrated male because the word referenced anyone, male or female, whose sexual orientation was a variation of the usual.
A saris is a person who is identified as “male” at birth but develops “female” characteristics as puberty and/or is lacking a penis. A saris can be “naturally” a saris, or become one through human intervention. Even Jesus acknowledges this is in Matthew 19:11. The word saris occurs over 40 times in the Scriptures, there are 156 references in the Mishna and Talmud. There are 379 references in classical midrash and Jewish codes of law. Saris were often trusted court officials with great responsibility and political power.
Most trans people in the US today don’t refer to themselves as saris and many simply refer to themselves as men or women.
G-d created humans, both female and male and blessed them. But G-d also blessed the saris in the text of Isaiah 56:4-5, which says, “For thus says the Lord: To the saris who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”
Perhaps Isaiah 56:4-5 shows why Jesus didn’t heal any saris and restore them to the assembly? Jesus simply didn’t see saris needing to be healed nor did he see anything wrong, with being a saris; especially if one has chosen that path. And there are no teachings about any saris asking Jesus to heal them, even after Jesus became famous for his miraculous healings.
I have previously stated that Adam and Eve are transgender. But I also want you to know that G-d performed another gender change as well. Leah was the third Jewish Matriarch who was married to the Jewish Patriarch Jacob and was the mother of six of the twelve tribes of Israel. According to the Talmud, Leah conceived a seventh son and realized that she would have the majority of the destined twelve tribes of Israel while her sister, Rachel, would have only one. Consequently, Leah prayed to G-d that her son should be born a girl. G-d answered her prayers and transformed Leah’s son from male to female while still in the womb. The child was born as female and was named Dinah.
With my few last moments, I would like to offer some thoughts that that SB-6 is not concerned with everyone’s rights. State Senator Lois Kolkhorst said in an Op Ed that, “My job is to protect everyone’s rights and tell the truth.” So why doesn’t SB-6 mandate that all single stall bathrooms be designated as “Any Gender” bathrooms affording both cisgender and transgender individuals safety, privacy, and dignity? Because SB-6 is not about protecting transgender rights like myself and my son. Designating any-gender/single stall bathrooms would be of minimal cost to municipalities and businesses. Austin provides this accommodation but SB-6 would remove this provision. What is the logic behind that? Cities including Austin, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, and Seattle were among the first cities to pass laws requiring single-user all-gender restrooms. And Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill requiring all single-toilet bathrooms in California to be gender neutral, the first such state legislation in the country. Why can’t Texas be the second? Because SB-6 is not about protecting transgender rights like myself and my son.
I just want to close with the most important teachings from Scriptures. The Talmud tells a story of Rabbi Hillel, who lived around the time of Jesus. A pagan came to him saying that he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the whole of the Torah (Jewish Bible) in the time he could stand on one foot. Rabbi Hillel replied, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.”.
Jesus said essentially the same thing in Mark 12:31, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”
So, whether you believe in G-d or not, let’s all just have compassion and respect for each other.
Amen and Thank You.
 Pronounced saw-reece’
 saris hamah
 saris adam
 Matthew 19:11, “For there are saris who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are saris who were made saris by men; and there are saris who made themselves saris for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. To him who can comprehend, that is enough.”
 Talmaud Berakhot 60a, see https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/dinah-midrash-and-aggadah
 An interesting fact that you may be surprised to know that in Jewish law, to change one’s name, a person need only be called to the Torah by a new name. You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to the government or wait in line at the courthouse with a doctor’s note and a pay stub. You don’t even have to go to psychotherapy.
 Talmud Shabbat 31a
Lydia M. Valdés, LPC 2017-03-06
Dear Texas Lawmakers:
My name is Lydia Valdés, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, Texas. Two of my therapeutic areas of specialization are working with Transgender youth and working with clients who have a trauma background. I write to you today to respectfully state my opposition to SB6, “The Texas Bathroom Bill.”
SB6 is designed to marginalize and target the transgender population. This marginalization creates safety issues for the transgender community and does not protect anyone. Transgender youth and adults seek to live their lives in the way that is true to the gender with which they identify, and there is nothing criminal about that. In fact, you will create vulnerability for our transgender youth and adults if you force them to enter the bathroom of a gender with which they do not identify or present.
In addition to the physical peril for our transgender youth and adults, emotional trauma can be created by forcing them into their previous gender expression each time they are in a public setting, thus preventing them from living in their fullest gender transition. This trauma can then lead to mental health issues for our transgender population.
Please do not legislate based on fear and a lack of understanding. Instead, open yourselves to understanding the reality of gender expression and transgender rights. This legislation, SB6, looks to create problems where none exist.
Janet Russo-Wallick 2017-03-07
I wish to express my opposition to SB6, otherwise known as the Texas Privacy Act. The originators of this bill claim that it protects the privacy of ALL Texans, but in reality it endangers the privacy of the estimated 124,000 transgender Texans. By passing this bill you would be sending the message that our privacy doesn’t matter, that we are not Texans, that we are not welcome in the state we call home. I hear a lot about how SB6 isn’t about “true” transgender people but protecting women from people that would abuse the fact that transgender people can use the correct restroom as a way to gain access to private spaces. I am a transgender woman, I am a state employee, I am a Texan and I want to tell you exactly how SB6 would impact me and my daily life and those of thousands of other Texans.
I am a 40 year old transgender woman working for a state university. I have worked there for almost 15 years, and last summer I decided to begin my transition. I met with the Human Resources department and we discussed how to handle my transition, including the fact that I would start using the women’s restroom. I have since legally changed my name and my gender. According to the state of Texas and the United States government I am legally female. However I was not born in Texas, I was born in a state that will not change my birth certificate without proof of genital surgery and a separate court order, which will not happen prior to SB6 taking effect. This means that I will have to start using the men’s room every day while at work because on a campus of over 8,000 people and dozens of buildings there are not “single occupancy gender neutral” bathrooms, and I don’t see that changing in the next few months.
Let me tell you what currently happens when I use the correct restroom (the women’s) everyday, both at work and everywhere else. I walk in, I go to a stall, I do my business, I come out and wash and dry my hands. That’s it. I have never had anyone question me in the bathroom, I’ve never had anyone react to the fact that I was there, or even really notice because I look, act and am like any other woman. If you pass SB6, I will start using the men’s room because I will follow the law, even ones I don’t agree with. So every day I will have to walk into the men’s room, walk past young men using the urinals and go into a stall. These men will be surprised to see a woman in their restroom. Remember that urinals don’t afford men much privacy. Don’t men deserve to feel just as comfortable using the restroom as women?
I know Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has been saying that this bill is about sexual predators and doesn’t discriminate against transgender people. He also says that it won’t impact the economy because private businesses can set their own policies. Let me tell you why he is wrong.
This isn’t about transgender people, but about sexual predators that will pretend to be transgender to gain access to restrooms and locker rooms:
First, transgender people have been using the restroom of the gender they identify as for decades without this being and issue. Almost 1/3 of the states in this country allow transgender people to use the restroom they identify with. There have been no reported incidences of transgender people or people claiming to be transgender assaulting anyone or committing any other crime in a restroom, locker room, etc… What there has been is attempts by people that support bills like SB6 to show that there is a danger by literally sending men in dresses into the ladies’ room. Second, it is already illegal to commit crimes in a restroom, allowing transgender people proper access doesn’t change that.
If he was truly concerned only about people “pretending or claiming to be transgender” then why specifically exclude the ability to allow known transgender individuals from using the correct bathroom. When I transitioned, I did not just show up at work and start walking into the women’s restroom. I met with Human Resources and my supervisors. We discussed how my transition would be handled, including the bathroom. I legally changed my name and gender. However, according to SB6, none of that matters because my birth certificate still has an M on it.
It does not discriminate against transgender people because “true transgender people” can change their birth certificate:
Not all transgender people can change their birth certificate. Focusing just on people born in the United States, every state has different requirements for changing the gender on a birth certificate. Some “just” require a court order saying that the person’s gender has been changed (sometimes they require a court order from the birth state instead of where you currently live), others also require documentation that gender confirmation surgery has been performed, some will not change the gender at all. Regardless of whether or not we can change our birth certificates, the fact remains that it is something most of us can’t do until we have been living as out authentic gender for a long time.
Companies and entertainers shouldn’t boycott Texas because this bill lets them set the policy they want:
I will admit that on its surface this sounds fine. “Bring your company that will create 500 jobs to Texas. If you want transgender people to use the bathroom they identify with, it’s your company, your building, your right.” What if some of those 500 employees have transgender children attending Texas schools? What happens when a transgender employee has jury duty? Suddenly Texas doesn’t look so welcoming anymore does it.
In addition, allowing companies, which includes stores and restaurants to set their own policies causes more confusion, anxiety and discrimination for transgender people. Do I have to ask every time I go somewhere which bathroom I can use? Do I need to ask every time I make a reservation to a restaurant, “Oh by the way, since I’ll be eating and drinking tonight, it is possible that I may need to use the restroom which one may I use?” Or do I do what want many transgender people already do and risk y health by not using public bathrooms.
I am proud to be a transgender woman. However, the choice of who and when I choose to share personal, private details to should be my choice. SB6 take away my privacy. Worse, it takes away my safety. Comments like “If a man in a dress is in the bathroom with my daughter he won’t have to worry about surgery because I’ll shoot him.” are all too common. That threat isn’t to a sexual predator, it’s to me, and no one is going to ask first if my birth certificate has an M or an F on it. A Texas official even “jokingly” posted a picture of a tool used for castrating livestock and referred to taking care of the bathroom problem. I don’t want to think of possibly having to be in the same bathroom with men like this. Please realize that my privacy and my safety and that of every other transgender Texan deserves protection too.
Tara Wenger 2017-03-07
My name is Tara Wenger and I stand in opposition to SB6. I am the mother of a transgender child, but I am not testifying just for him. I want to acknowledge all the transgender children, women, and men who will be stigmatized by this bill. There have been no instances of attacks by trans people in restrooms and, as a woman, I can tell you I have no fear of sharing a bathroom with a transgender woman.
I can, however, testify to the fear and anxiety of navigating restrooms as a transgender child. My son is 12 years old and transitioned to living as male one year ago. Before transitioning, I watched him run into the house and head straight for the bathroom every day after school. Even though he was using the bathroom that corresponded with his birth certificate, he was uncomfortable and bullied by kids who didn’t know him and wanted to know what he was doing in the girls’ restroom. A sympathetic teacher offered him a private restroom, but he was uncomfortable calling that much attention to himself. Mind you, this is a good student in a supportive environment. The danger to a child without those advantages frightens me.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about my son, Theo. He’s a remarkable person and it breaks my heart to have him reduced to nothing but his gender identity. He is a sweet, smart kid who currently attends 6th grade in Smithville. He likes playing basketball and writing. His favorite class is Texas Future Problem Solvers, an elective course that teaches critical thinking, creativity, and communication strategies. He was unanimously chosen to lead Smithville’s group, even though it includes 7th and 8th graders. He’s a confident and happy kid. A few years ago this would have never happened.
He learned to dress himself at 18 months because he didn’t like the clothes I picked out for him and has never wavered in his gender identity. It didn’t surprise me when he transitioned to living as male, and in fact strangers generally assumed he was a boy already. What did surprise me were the other changes that manifested after his transition. All of a sudden my shy, retiring, rather anxious child blossomed into a happy, confident, secure young man—outgoing and comfortable in his own skin. I wish this security for every trans child as they navigate the outside world.
This is something everyone deserves and policing bathroom use in this manner only stigmatizes an already marginalized community in an attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. If someone gets attacked in a bathroom, it doesn’t matter what gender they are or what they are wearing and there are already laws on the books to address that. The proposed legislation is about discrimination, not protection and comes at a huge economic loss to Texas. I urge the members of this committee to do what is right for ALL residents of Texas and defeat this bill.
Anna Nguyen 2017-02-07
Madam Chairperson, members of the committee, my name is Anna Nguyen.
My pronouns are she, her, hers.
I am the President of PFLAG Austin.
I’m here to testify in extreme opposition to SB6.
I don’t need to tell you that SB6 is redundant, because we already have
three Texas Penal Code chapters covering “Kidnapping and Unlawful Restraint”, “Sexual Offenses”, and “Assaultive Offenses”. that punishes these crimes not just in intimate spaces in public settings, but EVERYWHERE. BTW, this includes the crime of “invasive visual recording” in the first testimony. I don’t need to tell you that SB6 is not really about women’s safety and privacy, because otherwise SB6 would apply to all spaces, not only in public settings.
So given that SB6 is redundant, and not about safety, why would some still want SB6? One explanation is psychological projection.
Psychological projection is a defense mechanism where unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person. A common form of projection is when a person, threatened by their own deviant thoughts, accuses others of harboring those thoughts. The oft repeated diatribe of “men in women’s restroom” and “boys in girls’ bathroom”
is the direct result of this projection. NORMAL people use restrooms for biological needs. Some of them even wash their hands. However, some supporters of SB6 imagine deviant activities, that BTW, can happen anywhere. They project these sick fantasies onto others and therefore feel convinced that we need SB6.
I hope those in favor of SB6 do so for reasons other than projection of their own deviant fantasies.
Jerome Steph Mayoral 2017-02-07
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Jerome Steph Mayoral and I am a non-binary transgender person. I do not feel threatened in the restroom today and I find this bill, SB6, and the discussions about SB6 offensive.
I am a mom and a teacher highly trained in human development. I teach transgender students and cisgender students how to be welcoming and kind towards each other. This bill is damaging to me personally, to all students and to our entire community. When citizens are made unwelcome and marginalized, all members of the community suffer.
This is a life and death matter. Gender nonconforming kids must be included in our public spaces not excluded and led to contemplate suicide. When diverse citizenry can be welcome in public spaces all benefit from more varied intellectual resources and skilled abilities of our working professionals and healthy family members.
Please reject SB6 and urge all of your peers to do the same for the health of our Texas communities and children.
Hillary Lustick 2017-02-07
As a professor education at Texas State University, I write to implore that you stand in opposition against SB6. Transgender and gender nonconforming individuals do not pose a threat to my safety as a woman, a Texan, or an American–they just need to use the bathroom. While violence against women is perpetrated in all kinds of public and private spaces of our country, and I of course think we should be doing more to address that, there have been 0 cases of sexual predators in women’s bathrooms who get in there by pretending to be transgender women (http://abcnews.go.com/US/
On the other hand, there HAVE been numerous reported cases of transgender women being harassed, attacked, and killed: https://www.ovc.gov/pubs/
This is a civil rights issue in our time, like letting people use water fountains and bathrooms was a civil rights issue in the era of Jim Crow. Be on the right side of history. There are so many important issues we as a state and country need to address right now. Please don’t waste your precious time dealing with where people deposit their waste.