The Austin Chronicle

Qmmunity: The Rainbow Agenda

Start of the new year – and a new Lege – with some digital drag

By Beth Sullivan, January 8, 2021, Columns

New year, new Lege. On Tuesday (Jan. 12) the Texas Legislature will convene for the 87th legislative session. And while the how of a legislature conducting its business during a pandemic continues to be worked out, we have an early idea of the what on the Lege's rainbow agenda.

Bad bills, unsurprisingly, are already being filed (the deadline is March 12). Among them is House Bill 68 from state Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), which, if passed, would classify any gender affirming surgeries and hormone therapy for trans and gender nonconforming kids as child abuse under the Texas Family Code. In October 2019, at the height of the right wing's obsessive meddling in the custody battle of Luna Younger, a young trans girl from North Texas, Toth threatened to file such a bill, along with state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Ft. Worth), who at the time also pledged to introduce anti-trans legislation. That clash, I'm afraid, when folded into context with the fights over trans youth and athletes' rights at other state legislatures last year, signals what could be a likely battle this session against bills targeting trans youth.

Which leads me into my other guiding framework going into the the 87th Lege: Will LGBTQIA advocates' strategy at the Capitol be primarily one of defense or offense? The 85th session in 2017, no doubt, was one of defense as qmmunity advocates fought off the (ultimately failed) "bathroom bill," Senate Bill 6, and while the 86th Texas Legislature didn't witness huge gains for nondiscrimination protections, several pro-LGBTQIA bills received historic first hearings. I'm excited (anxious?) to see how, if at all, that momentum will carry into this session, particularly in the wake of SCOTUS's historic ruling on federal workplace protections last summer. And if the discrimination-is-bad-for-business argument is worth its weight in pink dollars, then I'll also be watching how the fight for explicit nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQmmunity might unfold in the freshly blessed Lone Star State of Tesla et al....

In light of Austin-Travis County entering Stage 5 risk guidelines, please check venue websites and Qmmunity listings online for the most up-to-date information on in-person events.

2 to Do

UnBEARable: HighBEARnation These winter nights do be long, and there's no better company to spend 'em with than the Dames of the Den – aka yer hostesses with the mostesses, Bulimianne Rhapsody, Chique Fil-Atio, and Mascara Rivers. Performances by Luna Knight, Basüra Mykels Hughes, and Sham Payne. Thu., Jan. 7, 8-9pm. Online. $10 suggested donation.

Are the Straights Okay? We're gonna say our guess is as good as the Boiz's here. Austin's drag king troupe explores gender roles, straight culture, and whatever lies beyond in this evening of digital drag. Tue., Jan. 12, 7pm. Online. $5 suggested donation.

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