New Orleans Trans Community Celebrates Rejection of Transphobic Bill–Warns Against Future Ones

Real Name Campaign Via Michael David Raso

At New Orleans City Hall, trans organizations, including the Real Name Campaign, and various leaders in the trans community celebrated the defeat of Louisiana State Representative Beryl Amedee’s (R-Houma) House Bill 542. The bill was aimed at limiting transgender female children from participating in girls’ sports. The bill, which was defeated in committee, would have prevented trans girls from participating in women’s sports. Concerns from trans supporters included an invasion of children’s privacy, and worried that children would be violated as part of gender examinations.

At a press conference, Mar Ehrlich of the Real Name Campaign read a statement regarding HB542 et al. “We also celebrate the trans community shutting down House Bills 542 and 575, along with Senate Bill 104. House Bill 542 was a duplicate of [State Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton] Mizell’s sports ban, and the Education Committee has done right to reject it. House Bill 575 and Senate Bill 104 attempted to ban life-saving medical care for trans youth and force schools to out children to their parents. If they had become law, the legislators responsible would have had blood on their hands.”

Toni Jones of the Real Name Campaign said at the event that she’s still concerned about Senate Bill 156 which Jones says is identical to House Bill 542. “It’s identical to 542 in that it wants to stop trans kids from playing sports and it specifically seeks to target young trans girls.”

She says of her movement, “The work of our organization, the Real Name Campaign, in the past has been providing support to trans people, navigating the legal process of changing their names or gender markers. We’ve petitioned for the reduction of the cost of name changes in Orleans Parish, and in the past, we’ve demonstrated for the rights and dignity of all trans people.”

Jones added, “It’s no coincidence these bills are being pushed right now. You see copies of these bills, that are exactly the same, across the nation. This is clearly because trans people have been gaining more rights and we’re being punished for it now.” She continued, “We shouldn’t be focused on a culture war that seeks to divide and feed trans people to the slaughterhouse for red meat for these senators who want to gain what little support they can attacking children. That’s not right.”

Next to speak was Cody Smith, New Orleans Chapter Representative of Louisiana Trans Advocates, an organization she describes as one, “…that seeks to fight for the rights and representation of trans people throughout the state of Louisiana, and we’ve had our work cut out for the last several weeks. Really the last several months.” Smith is not just a trans woman, but also a healthcare provider. “Two of these bills were targeted directly at healthcare for trans youth, which would have, literally, criminalized what I do for a living. If it had passed, it would have subjected me to up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine for essentially providing gender affirming therapy to a trans child.”

Speaker Lakessha J. Harris, Director of Reproductive Health and Justice, of Women With A Vision, said, “Trans people are not up for slaughter, period. When you say to trans youth that they cannot participate in sports of their choosing with the peers of their choice, than you are telling them they don’t have the right to exist.” She added, “I’m here to tell you today that every bill will be challenged. It will be challenged in coalition, and we will see our legislators and hold them accountable for human rights.”

Ari Gabrek, who is head of the Trans Resource Network of Louisiana said, “…we firmly believe that these bills are discriminatory, and would prevent trans youth from receiving the appropriate lifesaving medical care, and consequently force schools to out children to their parents and legal guardians. The suicide rate for trans youth is extremely high as it is already, due to the lack of proper support of medical care, as well as parental and social rejection.” Gabrek says Trans Resource Network of Louisiana, “…strongly oppose any bills which would prohibit trans students from participating in sports, and seek to further greenlight the humiliation of trans children by forcing them to submit to tests, as well as any other invasive treatments for being able to participate in sports.”

Jessica Frankel, Coalition Coordinator with the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, said, “We stand firmly against SB 156 and any legislation that seeks to violate the bodily autonomy of trans people. And trans kids deserve to play sports. We must stop these attacks on trans youth, and we are committed to showing up for them.”

The celebratory event was not the only place in New Orleans where trans rights were being discussed. The New Orleans City Council also voted in a four to three resolution to send a message condemning Senate Bills 104 and 156, along with House Bills 542 and 575. The four supporting it were Council Members Helena Moreno, Kristin Palmer, Jared Brossett, and Joseph Giarrusso. The wording of the resolution, authored by Council Member Moreno, included the phrase, “Bills of this nature are inhumane, discriminatory, and ignore best practices for medical care.”

Those that voted against the resolution included Council Members Jay H. Banks, Cyndi Nguyen, and Donna Glapion, who were concerned that the state government might not support a bill providing $32 million in funding for the New Orleans Sewerage &Water Board. Council Member Banks stated, “I am very concerned that issues that we take up here may give the false justification to be able to jack us up on other issues that are important to us.”

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