Watching my legislators strip my community of our rights has been devastating though ultimately unsurprising. Many of us have only ever felt a very tenuous safety living in Texas, if any at all.Trans student at the University of Texas at Austin
Trans Sanctuary City Now
The Trans Sanctuary City Now campaign began with a phone and email blast to City Council Members and the Texas Medical Board calling on them to adopt proposals that would make Austin a sanctuary city where laws targeting gender expression and sexual identity would not be enforced.
Texas Senate Bill 12 is a bill created to criminalize “sexually oriented” drag performances in the presence of minors. However, in practice, the bill would criminalize all public drag performances, with a penalty of up to $10,000 and a year in prison. The bill defines a “sexually oriented” performance as one in which someone is naked or in drag. The bill does not elaborate on what exactly about drag is equivalent to public nudity.
Breastplates and fake breasts have never been deemed a public issue until this point, an example being survivors of breast cancer using fake breasts to reclaim their femininity. Breastplates are used in drag performances as a celebration of femininity, queer identity, and artistic expression. This bill limits freedom of speech and sexualizes feminine anatomy, implying breastplates inherently “appeal to the prurient (abnormal) interest in sex.”
Texas Senate Bill 14 is a bill that would ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. These include completely reversible, safe medical treatments like puberty blockers. It would also revoke the medical licenses of all doctors who continue to perform this life-saving, medical care. In a study presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found a decrease of 60% in moderate and severe depression in trans youth who received gender-affirming care. They also found a decrease of 73% in the risk of suicide among transgender and non-binary youth. Eliminating gender-affirming health care for youth is not an option.
Even before SB 12 and SB 14 were passed, I have experienced how destructive lack of access to care and protection has been for myself and the trans people in my life.Trans student at the University of Texas at Austin
What is a Trans Sanctuary City?
A Trans Sanctuary City is a city where transphobic legislation is not enforced. Austin City Council does not have the authority to change the bills, but they can publicly refuse to enforce them.
Is that even possible?
We do it now! Marijuana is currently illegal in the state of Texas. But in 2020, the Austin City Council passed a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Since then, possession of (small amounts of) marijuana has been essentially decriminalized. Even CBD, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-9 THC products are now bought and sold in stores.
Also similar is the GRACE Act, or the Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone Act, passed in 2022. The GRACE Act is a policy recommendation in 2 parts: 1. City funds shouldn’t be used to solicit, catalog, report, or investigate reports of abortion. 2. Police should make investigating abortion their lowest priority.
The city has the ability to use this same type of policy to protect the lives of queer people in the Austin community.
Those in power would have you believe that these bills are a matter of child safety and common sense when they are nothing other than acts of transgender genocide.Trans student at the University of Texas at Austin
How can I get involved?
Below are two ways anyone can get involved with Trans Sanctuary City Now!