Proposed hate crime bill would extend protections to those who identify as transgender

Monday morning, Representative Garnet Coleman held a press conference to talk about HB1513. The proposed bill, if passed would add, "prejudice based on gender identity" to the hate crimes act.

Texas Equality says it's geared to extend protections to those who identify as transgender.

Rep. Coleman says, "When I got here the defense of marriage act was passed in 1991 as a statute. Then it was passed as a constitutional amendment. And then people started growing the defense of their own rights but it was done as a wedge issue."

''I think it's important just like as an African American, or protecting religion that's part of our constitution, like being a woman. The reality is these are important statutes to protect these people and yes it does work,” he adds.

Monica K. Roberts, a transgender woman from Houston was also at the press conference. "It also sends a message to our attackers that violence against this group will not be tolerated. You will be punished. It also sends a message to the group that's being attacked, that you matter,” she says.

Danielle Skidmore a board member for Texas Equality testified on the floor later, Monday afternoon. She identifies as transgender and says the trans community has become more and more visible in society in the last few years. "But with that visibility comes an unfortunate increase in acts of violence against our community."

Skidmore says she's excited it's in committee and hopes it goes to the floor this year.

 "Ultimately we will receive those protections,” Skidmore adds.

Mary Castle, with Texas Values says she believes this bill won't go very far. "In order to have effective laws you have to have Supreme Court precedence you have to have actual things in code,” Castle says.

I asked is there a way to meet authors of the bill or the trans community in the middle.

"There have been numerous times where gender identity is a matter of opinion or something that's not very determinant as we've seen people who change back and forth and with this being uncertain this shouldn't be public policy,” Castle adds.