For members of the Texas Transgender community, the notion of being under-represented is nothing new. Even among the brave, mostly Democrat contingency of those legislators supporting LGBT rights, they are outnumbered on virtually every measure by those who not only don’t support equality, but in many cases vehemently oppose it at every opportunity.
But for those who may not be at the extreme, you have to wonder what the motivation may be to oppose equality. Could it be on religious grounds, or perhaps a lack of familiarity with the community and its issues? As each legislator in the Texas House or Texas Senate represents hundreds of thousands of constituents, it’s easy to assume that they have at least met someone in the Transgender community. As John Wright of the Texas Observer reports, one brave Texan decided not to assume, and garnered some interesting results…
After waiting 16 hours to testify against the anti-trans “bathroom bill” during a Senate committee hearing March 7, Martinez called the offices of all 31 senators to encourage them to vote against SB 6.
She said she was “shocked” when she received a return phone call from the office of Senator Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, the lone Democratic senator to support the bill, who requested a personal meeting. Lucio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When they met last week, Martinez said Lucio told her she was the first trans person he’d spoken to one-on-one, which inspired her next campaign. Beginning last Thursday, Martinez visited the offices of all 181 members of the Texas Legislature over three days, using vacation time from her job as a programmer at AT&T.
“I decided I could not let this session go forward without visiting every office and saying, ‘I’m here, I’m real, I’m a Texan, I’m transgender, and this bill would hurt me,’” Martinez said. “It’s harder to paint us as monsters when there’s a human face on it.”
It’s easy for many in the Texas Legislature to sidestep LGBT rights, because so few have to rely on the LGBT voting block to win reelection. By simply showing up and taking the time to meet with Texas Senators and House Members, Stephanie Martinez is giving the transgender equality movement a new level of visibility to a very critical audience. As many in the political world know, personal relationships are just as important as any political ideology or deeply held belief. Kudos to Ms. Martinez and all of those lobbying for equality in Austin.
Again, you can read more at the Texas Observer.