AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Freedom Network held a rally for Transgender Day of Visibility at the Texas State Capitol where several hundred people showed up.
Marti Bier, the director of programs for Texas Freedom Network, says this is the first event they've organized, but rallies for transgender visibility have been happening every year.
"It's always important to be visible and to be seen, and to be out, but especially this year. I think we've undergone so many attacks as a community. The governor, the attorney general, have really been after us. The legislative session was just brutal last year," Bier said. "The trans community is truly one of the bravest, most beautiful groups of people on the planet. The attacks they've been under are just so unfounded and so unfair and actually are so hurtful to folks in the community."
Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote a formal opinion concluding that "performing certain ‘sex-change' procedures on children, and prescribing puberty-blockers to them, is 'child abuse’ under Texas law." This prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to direct the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate reported instances of "abusive gender-transitioning procedures" done on Texas children.
Earlier this year, a law went into effect in Texas that says student-athletes have to compete on teams that match their sex assigned at birth.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler was at the event supporting the transgender community. "These are members of our community, and they deserve our support, and they need to know they are as safe in Austin as we can possibly make them," he said.
He adds, "we're going to follow the experts and say this kind of gender-affirming care is just real important in our county, in our city, there aren't going to be prosecutions for people following the medical science."
Attendee Merrie Hyltin says there should be more education.
"As a very masculine leaning human that has lived in this body and grown up Texas, born and raised in Texas, I don't think there was anybody in school growing up in school that said, 'hey, that's okay. Hey, you can go into the boy's section.' I don't know why clothes are gendered, but you were just not made comfortable to live in your body. "I was a little gay kid. I'm a little gay kid. This wasn't some choice, this wasn't some decision that I woke up and made." she said.
She also says if people don't support you, they don't need to be in your life. "Live your truth unapologetically, and you will find people in this world who will support you," she said. "It irritates me that I bother people so much. There's so much phobia over something that is not the norm and I don't understand that."
Lisa, a parent of a transgender child, says it's important for family members to support their children.
"All kids know who they are, and we should believe them when they tell us who they are. I feel like it's really important especially in light of what's happening for me to model for my daughter that we're not going to be afraid, and that she should be proud of who she is, and not hide who she is. This is a day to celebrate trans people and to be visible and proud and loud about who they are," she said. "Just to stay strong and keep loving your trans children and affirming them. We can't let the government or a small group of people who are closed-minded interfere with family matters, private, personal medical decisions."
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