Meet the Texas lawmakers who've spent years fighting against equality

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The lawmakers behind the state's latest anti-trans bills have long histories of opposing LGBTQ rights.

Texas lawmakers are considering a flurry of bills targeting transgender youth this session, many of which focus on defining gender-affirming health care, such as hormone treatment, as child abuse, and punishing families and doctors that allow minors to receive that care.

The lawmakers behind those bills have long histories of opposing LGBTQ equality more broadly.

Texas state Sen. Charles Perry's (R) bill, S.B. 1646, would define transition-related care, including hormone treatments and puberty blockers, as child abuse and would target people who assist in, consent to, administer, or perform this kind of care, including family members. Perry has also filed S.B. 29, which would ban transgender youth from participating on the sports team corresponding with their gender.

In the state House, Rep. Matt Krause (R) introduced H.B. 1399, which would exclude from liability insurance policies any physician who performs gender-affirming care. Krause's colleague, Republican Rep. Steve Toth, introduced his own bill, H.B. 68, that would label that gender-affirming health care as child abuse.

And S.B. 1311, introduced by Sen. Bob Hall, revokes certifications and licenses for health care providers and physicians who provide gender-affirming treatments.

In addition to his anti-trans bill, Perry authored a bill this session that says the State Bar of Texas can't adopt rules that might harm lawyers' religious freedom in reaction to a proposal from the American Bar Association in March that prohibits them from engaging in discrimination, including anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The lawmakers in question each have histories of questionable behavior when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

Perry authored S.B. 17 in 2019, which would have shielded workers from being penalized by state agencies for denying people services because of a "sincerely held religious belief."

Others have made highly criticized remarks demeaning the LGBTQ community directly.

In 2020, Hall testified to the Texas Republican Executive Committee against allowing the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ group, to set up a booth at the state Republican convention.

Hall said at the time, "This abominable sex education that goes on in our schools where they’re trying to push unnatural sex as natural — we are not on the same side of that issue!”

The party ultimately ended up denying the group a booth, though the rejection wasn't entirely unprecedented: The Texas GOP has rejected the group's application for a booth since 1998.

Krause, for his part, was named the worst Texas lawmaker on issues of LGBTQ rights in 2013 by Equality Texas. That same year, he co-sponsored a bill that would punish schools for giving benefits to unmarried partners, according to the Dallas Observer, among other things.

He also authored a bill in 2019 that would have stopped the government from taking action against businesses and individuals that related to their "religious beliefs and moral convictions, including beliefs and convictions related to marriage."

The bill, among other things, allowed people to seek legal relief against the government for violations of nondiscrimination law, effectively allowing businesses to deny services to LGBTQ people without fear of punishment. It was eventually defeated.

Toth, meanwhile, previously pledged to introduce legislation defining gender-affirming care as child abuse back in 2019. At that time, the Texas Attorney General's office and the state Department of Family and Protective Services was actively involved in a dispute between two divorced parents, one of whom supported her transgender child's transition, and the other who did not.

"The 1st bill I file in the 87th [legislative session] will add 'Transitioning Of a Minor' as Child Abuse," he tweeted then. "Upwards of 500 minors are being transitioned in TX. Cowards kept us from protecting these children in the 86th [session]. The wrath of Texans will be heard in the 87th."

The Texas bills come at a time of heightened concern over a spate of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country. Lawmakers, predominantly Republican ones, have introduced measures to ban transgender minors from proper health care and from playing on the sports team that matches their gender. Some have attempted to override bans on the dangerous practice commonly known as "conversion therapy" which most experts say can lead to serious health problems.

As of early March, at least 109 pieces of discriminatory legislation had been introduced since the start of 2021 at the state level, according to the ACLU.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in America continue to face discrimination in their daily lives," the group wrote earlier in the year. "While more states every year work to pass laws to protect LGBTQ people, we continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people, limit local protections, and allow the use of religion to discriminate."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.