House Democrats Introduce Bill to Protect Transgender Texans
HB 1513 would expand scope of James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act
In the face of renewed attacks on the LGBTQ community from conservative lawmakers, Democratic legislators on Monday introduced a bill (HB 1513) that would expand the 2001 James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act to protect transgender residents.
Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, joined by co-authors Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, Jessica González, D-Dallas, and Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, said at a press conference this week that when the Byrd Act was passed, it excluded protections for victims of crimes caused by bias against the victim's gender identity or expression. The veteran Houston lawmaker has filed a bill to change that in every session since 2007; Coleman says today people have a "better understanding" of transgender Texans, who number more than 1.3 million, than in the past. "It is clear the time to act is more imperative than ever before," he said. "Changing the law would give transgender Texans the protection they both need and deserve." The average age of survival of transgender women of color is 27, Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, pointed out, stressing the often dangerous climate that transgender Texans face.