Last Friday, I testified against SB29, a transgender athlete ban, at the state capitol in Austin, Texas. Though I have spoken out on other issues at a local level in the past, this was my first time to testify at the capitol. My transgender son also testified. I am so very proud of him. Without the help of Equality Texas, this would not have been a smooth experience.

Over a week before the hearing, I got an email from Equality Texas about the bill, but there was no way of knowing exactly when SB29 would go up for a vote before the committee. I let Equality Texas know that we would be interested in testifying. Then somehow I missed the March 24th email that announced the bill would be heard on Friday, March 26th. When I saw the message Thursday morning, I scrambled to rearrange our pandemic life to accommodate a trip to Austin. After an Equality Texas pep talk, I scratched out a rough draft of a statement against SB29. Since my youngest child had bi-district soccer playoffs Thursday night, testifying meant getting up early on Friday to make the trip to Austin. So it was a late-night followed by an early start.

My son was up and at’em on Friday morning long before I was. I don’t function very well on a few hours of sleep, but I managed to quickly revise my testimony before heading out. Sitting in the backseat with his laptop tethered to his phone, my son wrote his testimony as we traveled. I felt like he could take the day off to testify because he is attending school online during the pandemic. He was able to complete school work while we waited at the capitol. A three and a half hour drive isn’t bad, but it is a challenge when you’re already tired. Anxiety and nervousness kept me alert. We left thirty minutes later than planned, which meant we wouldn’t get there until after the committee was in session. There were other bills that day, and we didn’t know if SB29 would be heard first or last. I was worried we would get there too late to testify. My experience speaking out at city council meetings had taught me you have to get on the speaker list before the meeting opens. But I didn’t need to worry. Testimony at the state capital is a different beast- and much more manageable. Even the people who showed up at the very end of the hearing were allowed to testify.

I never completely trust Google driving directions, but we actually made it right to the capitol building at 9:20 a.m. Most entrances were blocked off and guarded, but with some direction from National Guards, we found an entrance with big white tents. This is where they were Covid testing. A negative test or proof of the Covid vaccine is required for anyone entering the Texas Capitol building. While waiting for Covid results, we met some representatives from TENT (Transgender Education Network of Texas). They helped us navigate to the floor where the hearing would take place. We registered to testify at a digital kiosk outside the hearing room. It was really easy and painless. There was not enough room for everyone to sit and listen to the hearing, so we waited around for our turn. When we heard that it would be a while before testimony on SB29 started, we finally made our way into the Capitol Grill.

We made fast friends with others gathered there that day and listened to each other’s testimony. We cried and encouraged each other. We waited some more. The LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations whose representatives were gathered at the capitol had reserved a room. So a little after 12:00, we went and waited there. We watched the hearing on a large screen TV and anxiously waited our turn. When it was time to testify, we made our way upstairs. Without the help of Equality Texas and TENT, we would have been very intimidated by the process and the prolonged waiting. It was nice to meet like-minded people and wait in anticipation together. We wondered whether the committee members would ask us questions after our testimony. We wondered whether our voices would shake with emotion or whether we would break down in tears. Then it was time. My son was called in to testify. Shortly after, I was also called. I only got to hear the very end of his testimony. It was powerful. I am always amazed by my son’s bravery. It takes courage to speak your truth in a public forum. I encourage all allies, parents, friends, and family members to speak out. That day we were surrounded by so much love. We will be needed again soon. You will be needed as well.

Categories: Legal

Rainbow Advice

I'm the parent of LGBTQ+ children and I want to empower other parents to advocate for their children. If you can't find an answer on this site, please email me at admin@rainbowadvice.com. I will try to locate helpful resources for you.