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Texas school district imposes ‘Don’t Say Trans’ policy

“I transferred to another district this year because of the culture of fear you continue to create,” said one LGBTQ+ student

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Texas Trans youth protest anti-Trans policies and laws at state capitol Spring 2021 (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

By Steven Monacelli | GRAPEVINE, Tx. – The parking lot was packed Monday evening when I arrived at the administrative headquarters of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD), from which I graduated over a decade ago.

Four pop-up tents had been set up in the parking lot by conservative activist groups who held a tailgate party ahead of the meeting. Among the tailgaters was Julie McCarty, the founder of the True Texas Project, a right-wing group descended from the NE Tarrant Tea Party that’s been designated an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We had a huge party in the parking lot to celebrate our victories & enjoy awesome community spirit,” wrote True Texas Project CEO Julie McCarty on Twitter. “Thank you @GCISD & thank you to the @TrueTXProject peeps who supported!”

Immediately outside the building entrance, a handful of students from the district held protest signs. “Our existence is not a controversy,” one sign read. “Let trans kids live, we aren’t threats,” said another.

What drew both groups to the suburban school district meeting in Tarrant County was a 36-page document of proposed district policies that was publicly released only 72 hours earlier. The proposals were championed by the school board’s four-member conservative majority, recently elected with the help of a flood of dark money, part of a nationwide trend in which crusading reactionaries have turned school boards into perches from which to wage war on literature, queer children, and non-existent curricula. Most controversially, the GCISD policies include a total ban on employees engaging in any discussion of what the district defines as “gender fluidity.” 

“I AM PART OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY, AS ARE MANY OF MY FRIENDS THAT REMAIN IN THE GCISD SCHOOLS. THE POLICIES YOU ARE PROPOSING ARE PUTTING THEM IN DANGER.”

“For purposes of this policy, ‘Gender Fluidity’ means any theory or ideology that (1) espouses the view that biological sex is merely a social construct, (2) espouses the view that it is possible for a person to be any gender or none (i.e. non-binary) based solely on that person’s feelings or preferences, or (3) espouses the view that an individual’s biological sex should be changed to ‘match’ a self-believed gender that is different from the person’s biological sex,” the measure reads.

Other policies include a ban on “equity audits” across the district and draconian rules on what books are allowed in libraries and classrooms. The language around “inappropriate material” in libraries is particularly vague, defining it in part as “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors.”

The policies are described by proponents as designed to ensure the district complies with state and federal laws, such as the laws passed by the Texas Legislature explicitly banning the teaching of “critical race theory” in classrooms. Critics, such as the ACLU of Texas, deride the policies as blatantly anti-LGTBQ+ and note that parts of the policies in fact go beyond what is required by state law.

Nearly two hundred people had signed up to speak during the public comment period, a record-breaking number according to board member Jorge Rodríguez. Testimony lasted nearly four hours. Students, parents, alumni, and outside activists alike were each given a mere sixty seconds to voice their opinion on the proposed policies prior to the final vote. Most said they were residents of the district. A few were activists with far-right groups like True Texas Project, Protect Texas Kids, and even the John Birch Society

“MANY ALREADY FEEL THAT THEY HAVE TO SUPPRESS THEIR GENDER EXPRESSION IN PUBLIC AND FEAR DISCRIMINATION.”

In terms of the “prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole,” the room was clearly divided. Simple statements of thanks to the board, heartfelt pleas to reconsider the policies, and deranged chest beatings were all on display. One man, Scott Western, shocked some in the room when he delivered a deeply homophobic rant in favor of the policies.

“Fight like hell, hold the line against the LGBT mafia and their dang pedo fans. Keep winning. You know what, keep the winning, they can keep the monkeypox,” Western said. “Woo! Get some. Thank you.”

Western received no condemnation from the board, but one man was warned and eventually ejected by the board president for clapping after speeches in opposition to the policies.

Some of the most compelling speeches came from students and alumni of the district who urged the district to reconsider the proposed measures. “Many already feel that they have to suppress their gender expression in public and fear discrimination,” said one high school junior. “Schools everywhere and in GCISD are supposed to make everyone feel included and safe.”

Another student’s speech personalized that concern in a particularly dramatic fashion.

“I transferred to another district this year because of the culture of fear you continue to create,” the student said. “I am part of the LGBTQ+ community, as are many of my friends that remain in the GCISD schools. The policies you are proposing are putting them in danger. So, what are we afraid of? No, let me rephrase. What are you afraid of?”

“THESE BOARD MEETINGS HAVE JUST BECOME HEADQUARTERS FOR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON WHAT WE ARE HERE TO DO, WHICH IS TO HELP STUDENTS SUCCEED.”

After the public comment period concluded, the four conservative members—in keeping with their apparent disdain for free speech—voted to limit comment from the trustees to three minutes each. One opposed member, Rodríguez, tore into the proposal. 

“Now we have a war against librarians, a war against LGTBQ+ students and teachers, and that is why I’m voting against these policies,” Rodríguez said. “We’ve heard from many citizens concerned about these policies, and in years past we don’t get to this point because we go to the community and ask for feedback and input. … I believe this is all political. These board meetings have just become headquarters for political campaigns instead of focusing on what we are here to do, which is to help students succeed.”

Conservative member Tammy Nakamura defended the policies as a justified response to what she sees as the politicization of education and the “overt and nefarious infiltration of social and cultural propaganda in the curriculum, none more damaging to young minds and bodies than the madness of so-called Gender Fluidity Ideology.” 

“Simply put, with the passage of these policies, we have neutralized our classrooms,” Nakamura said. “They will no longer be used as weapons against free market capitalism, against national pride and unity, against traditional American values, and against the biological and social identity of our children.”

At the end of the trustee statements, with less than five hours of public discussion, the proposed policies were all passed by the same 4-3 margin that limited discussion about them.

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Steven Monacelli is an investigative journalist in Dallas. His reporting has been featured in Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, The Real News, Dallas Observer, Dallas Weekly, and more. He is also the publisher of Protean Magazine, a nonprofit literary publication. Follow him on Twitter @stevanzetti.

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The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Observer a nonprofit investigative news outlet and is republished by permission.

The Texas Observer believes that journalism is crucial to holding the powerful accountable and essential in the development of a world that protects the lives, and rights, of all human beings. It’s with this spirit that they hope to partner, collaborate and share resources with news outlets also working in the public’s interest.

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Texas teacher suspended after anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of TikTok attack

Student & parents defended the teacher. More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition to bring the him off of administrative leave

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Screenshot/X (formerly Twitter)

LEWISVILLE, Texas – Students and some parents of the Hebron High School community are angry and defending a teacher who was suspended after anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of TikTok’s extremist creator Chaya Raichik, posted a video of him wearing a pink dress with matching boots and hat surrounded by students in the high school’s corridors.

Raichik wrote on her X (formerly Twitter) account: “UNREAL. This is an actual teacher in @LewisvilleISD named Rachmad Tjachyadi. I’m told he also sometimes shows up to teach dressed in full drag and has a fetish for wearing women’s clothing. How is this acceptable?!”

The Dallas Morning News reported that the Lewisville Independent School District received complaints after Libs of TikTok, which has more than 2.8 million followers and is known for spreading anti-LGBTQ sentiment, posted the video on Valentine’s Day.

Student and parents defended the faculty member, Rachmad Tjachyadi. More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition to bring the teacher off of administrative leave, adding that he was dressed up for spirit day, the Dallas paper also reported.

“He does not deserve to be defamed and lose his job,” the petition reads. “He has been an inspiration to many students, and has created a space where everyone can feel valued and safe.”

“It would be natural for our families to have questions about this situation, but because this is a personnel matter currently under review, there is no additional information the district can share,” principal Amy Boughton wrote in an email distributed to staff, students, and others in the Hebron High School community.

Tjachyadi has not responded to requests for comment.

“It is our standard procedure to place a staff member on leave when we review concerns shared with the campus,” Lewisville ISD spokesperson Amanda Brim told The Dallas Morning News.

The Los Angeles Blade, along with media partner Media Matters for America- a left-leaning 501 nonprofit organization and media watchdog group, has published over thirty articles covering Raichik and her attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

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Recently, Raichik bitterly portrayed an in-depth investigative article by NBC News technology reporter David Ingram, detailing bomb threats and violent threats inspired by Raichik’s social media posts, as a “goal is to silence me by having me investigated and thrown in prison.”

In November of 2023, in a lengthy exposé, Media Matters researchers documented 25 institutions, events, and individuals who reported threats after being targeted by Libs of TikTok, and 8 who reported harassment — a total of at least 33 instances of threats or harassment, which was then independently reported on by NBC News.

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Houston PD: Shooter NOT trans; Libs of TikTok, far right claim trans

“Our investigation to this point, talking with individuals, interviews, documents, HPD reports- she identified this entire time as female” 

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Houston Police Department homicide commander Christopher Hassig briefing reporters Monday afternoon. (Screenshot/YouTube KHOU)

HOUSTON, Texas – In the hours after Genesee Moreno, a 36 years old, Hispanic female entered the sanctuary of Joel Osteen’s mega Lakewood Church and opened fire with an assault rifle this past Sunday, there were multiple instances of confusion over her gender identity, in part fueled by unsubstantiated or false narratives from far-right extremists.

During a briefing with reporters yesterday, Houston Police Department homicide commander Christopher Hassig stated with absolute clarity that Moreno was not a transgender person.

“Our shooter is identified by a driver’s license as Genesee Moreno 36 years old, Hispanic female. There are some discrepancies. We do have reports she used multiple aliases, including Jeffrey Escalante. So she has utilized both male and female names but through all of our investigation to this point, talking with individuals, interviews, documents, Houston Police Department reports, she has identified this entire time as female,”  Hassig told the media.

KHOU-TV investigative reporter Jeremy Rogalski’s initial reporting as posted to X.

In initial coverage, local CBS affiliate KHOU and the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported Moreno, who had used the name Jeffery Escalante, had an extensive criminal history dating back to 2005 according to a Texas Department of Public Safety records search. Prior arrests include failure to stop and give information, assault of a public servant, assault causing bodily injury, forgery, possession of marijuana, theft, evading arrest unlawful carrying weapon.

Media outlets including Fox News and even NBC News who later retracted a portion of their story mistakenly framed the context as “a person who previously identified as male” which led to the incorrect framing of Moreno’s gender identity.

Far-right extremist pundits and at least one anti-trans member of the U.S. House took up the “shooter was trans” narrative.

Screenshot of Libs of TikTok far-right extremist creator Chaya Raichik’s post on the Houston shooter.

Chaya Raichik’s post had a companion extremist anti-trans X post by Georgia Republican U. S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who republished a post by far-right media Blaze TV anchor Sara Gonzales, both falsely claiming Moreno was transgender. Gonzales’ post appeared to contain a criminal record without attribution of its source.

Libs of TikTok’s Raichik also posted the same “criminal record” on her social media accounts.

Fox News also ran misleading and false headlines regarding Moreno’s gender identity. Alejandra Caraballo a trans attorney and clinical instructor at the prestigious Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic who also writes on gender & technology issues for Wired and Slate magazines debunked the Fox News allegations and called out the far-right anti-trans extremists.

“Far right extremist accounts like Libs of Tiktok rushed to call the shooter at Joel Osteen’s church a transgender woman. The police have just confirmed that is not the case and she was the biological mother of the child who was shot. They won’t apologize or retract their lies,” Caraballo said.

Media Matters of America’s LGBTQ project executive director Ari Drennen cautioned Tuesday the falsehoods and fabrications are “adding fuel to a moral panic” on trans issues as multiple state legislators rush to pass anti-trans laws:

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Houston media: Megachurch shooter used male & female names

The shooter at the mega Lakewood Church, in southwest Houston on Sunday armed with a long rifle, previously used male name

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Alleged suspect Genesse Moreno (Screenshot/YouTube KHOU)

HOUSTON, Texas – Multiple Houston press outlets are reporting Monday morning that the woman who entered Joel and Victoria Osteen’s mega Lakewood Church, in southwest Houston on Sunday armed with a long rifle had used male and female names.

Multiple independent sources told KHOU 11’s reporter, Jeremy Rogalski, that Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, who had begun firing almost upon entering was killed by two off-duty law enforcement officers, who were working at Lakewood Church. One is a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent who is 38 years old with four years of service. The other off-duty officer is an Houston Police Department officer who is 28 years old with two years of service.

UPDATE: The boy, who authorities described as a 7-year-old, remained in critical condition Monday with a gunshot wound to the head. He had been described as a 5-year-old on Sunday.

The shooter walked into the Houston mega-church with a 5-year-old child while wearing a trench coat and carrying a backpack that she reportedly announced had explosives inside. Law enforcement searched her and her vehicle, no explosives were found.

KHOU and the Houston Chronicle are reporting Moreno, who had used the name Jeffery Escalante, had an extensive criminal history dating back to 2005 according to a Texas Department of Public Safety records search. Prior arrests include failure to stop and give information, assault of a public servant, assault causing bodily injury, forgery, possession of marijuana, theft, evading arrest unlawful carrying weapon.

In a Sunday press conference Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters in addition to Moreno who was shot to death by the off-duty officers returning her fire, the 5-year-old boy accompanying her and a 57-year-old man were both hit by gunfire. Finner said that the child was taken to a hospital in critical condition, the man was wounded in his leg.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is calling for investigators to look into whether or not the shooting was a hate-crime targeting Hispanic people, the Houston Chronicle reported. The shooter arrived at the church just minutes before a Spanish-language sermon was scheduled to begin.

“I don’t want to talk about her motivations because I don’t know. Right?” HPD Chief Finner said at the Sunday press conference.

The Houston Chronicle reported members of the FBI, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department, Conroe Police Department and Texas Rangers arrived at Moreno’s suburban Houston area home in Conroe, Texas, North of Houston home hours after the Sunday shooting to collect evidence. 

A motive for the shooting is unknown at this time.

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Oral Arguments before Supreme Court of Texas on trans care ban

“Every parent in Texas deserves for their child to have access to health care when they need it, but S.B. 14 takes away that assurance”

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Supreme Court of Texas listening to oral arguments in February 2023. (Photo by Diane Galik Tijerina)

AUSTIN, Texas— Legal advocates representing transgender adolescents, their parents, and medical providers argued before the Texas Supreme Court today, asking the court to affirm a lower court’s temporary injunction blocking enforcement of Senate Bill 14, a medical care ban targeting transgender youth.

Senate Bill 14, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2023, bans necessary and life-saving medical care in Texas for the treatment of gender dysphoria for transgender youth and requires the Texas Medical Board to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who provide the standard of care to their trans patients.

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, ACLU, Transgender Law Center, Lambda Legal, and pro bono law firms Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP argued that Senate Bill 14 violates the Texas Constitution by depriving parents of their fundamental right to make medical decisions for their children, discriminating against transgender youth on the basis of sex and transgender status, and violating medical professionals’ right to practice their professions.

In July 2023, families and health professionals sued the state of Texas and other state defendants to block Senate Bill 14 from going into effect. In August, Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel of Travis County granted a temporary injunction to pause implementation and enforcement of the ban; however, the state defendants appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Texas, and the law went into effect on Sept. 1 of last year. 

The five Texas families with transgender children and teenagers challenging this law come from diverse backgrounds and live across the state. The bill’s passage has resulted in families splitting up or planning to leave Texas to continue treatment for their children. The families are suing pseudonymously to protect themselves and their children, who are transgender Texans between the ages of 9 and 16.

Plaintiff PFLAG National is the nation’s first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. Plaintiff GLMA is the oldest and largest association of LGBTQ+ and allied health professionals, including those who treat LGBTQ+ patients.

“This case is about upholding the constitutional rights of transgender Texans and those who care for them, including the plaintiffs in this case, and stopping the immense harm that S.B. 14 is inflicting on our state,” said Ash Hall, policy and advocacy strategist for LGBTQ+ rights at the ACLU of Texas. “Transgender youth, their families, and their doctors — not politicians and the government — should be trusted to make life-saving medical decisions together. We are deeply proud of the plaintiffs, the trans community, and the thousands of Texans who continue to push for a world where all Texans can thrive. Trans youth are loved and belong in Texas.”

“Bans on medical care for trans youth like Texas’ Senate Bill 14 have real and negative consequences for transgender youth and their families. They endanger the health and wellbeing of trans youth, violate the rights of trans youth and their families, and force medical providers to disregard their oaths and well-established, evidence-based standards of care,” said Paul D. Castillo, senior counsel, Lambda Legal. “The Travis County District Court recognized both the real harm of SB 14 and the improper interference of the state in healthcare decisions properly left to parents, children, and their doctors. We welcomed the opportunity today to reinforce that message with the Supreme Court of Texas.”

“As we await the decision of the Texas Supreme Court, we take this moment to thank the courageous plaintiff families and organizational plaintiffs, PFLAG and GLMA, as well as the doctors, trans youth, and the hundreds of trans Texans and their allies who have shown up to rallies, committee hearings, and the Capitol to ensure trans youth can access life-saving and necessary medical care,” said Lynly Egyes, the legal director of Transgender Law Center. “Texans of all races, genders, and backgrounds deserve access to medical care. No matter what happens in the days ahead, we will continue the fight for trans youth and their families to have the freedom to make the medical decisions that are best for them.”

“Every parent in Texas deserves for their child to have access to health care when they need it, but S.B. 14 takes away that assurance of health and safety for children who are transgender. Our hope is that today, the Court heard this injustice and will take steps to rectify it, so every child in Texas, transgender or not, has the freedom to thrive,” said Brian K. Bond, CEO of PFLAG National.

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Texas AG requests trans youths’ patient records from Georgia clinic

This is at least the 2nd time AG has sought such records from an out-of-state provider since Texas banned transition-related care for kids

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at the Collin County Labor day picnic in Plano on Sept. 2, 2023. His office is seeking information on transgender patients from at least two out-of-state health care centers. (Photo Credit: Azul Sordo for the Texas Tribune)

By Madaleine Rubin | AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is requesting medical records of Texas youth who have received gender-affirming care from a Georgia telehealth clinic, marking at least the second time he’s sought such records from providers in another state.

The clinic, QueerMed, confirmed on Friday morning that they received the request. QueerMed said it stopped servicing youth in Texas after the state banned transition-related care last year. The clinic’s founder said the attorney general requested information about patients dating back to Jan. 1, 2022, before the ban took effect.

The clinic said that Paxton asked for private information about Texas residents who were provided with telehealth care in Texas before the ban, and residents provided with care outside of Texas after the ban. The request, they said, nearly mirrors one the attorney general sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital last year.

Paxton asked Seattle Children’s for a variety of patient information, including the number of Texas children they have treated, medications prescribed to children, the children’s diagnoses and the name of Texas laboratories where tests for youth are administered.

In response to that request, known as a civil investigative demand, Seattle Children’s sued the Texas Office of the Attorney General in December.

QueerMed confirmed that Paxton sent his request to them on Nov. 17, the same day that Seattle Children’s received the similar demand for documents. QueerMed received the request Dec. 7, due to mail delays. Its receipt of the letter was first reported by The Houston Chronicle on Friday morning.

The Office of the Attorney General did not respond to requests for comment on the QueerMed inquiry, and has not publicly discussed his request to Seattle Children’s.

Paxton’s requests come amidst an intensified Republican-led effort in Texas to block the state’s transgender youth from accessing transition-related care like puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Last year, the state banned doctors from prescribing such treatments to minors, even though major medical groups argue gender-affirming care is lifesaving for transgender youth who face higher rates of suicide attempts and mental health problems than their cisgender peers.

The law, Senate Bill 14, also made it illegal to perform surgeries on minors. Before the law passed, Texas Pediatric Society president Louis Appel said he was not aware of minors in Texas having bottom surgery, an umbrella term for surgery that involves genitals.

Karen Loewy, a lawyer with Lambda Legal representing organizations and Texas families of transgender youth trying to block SB 14 in court, said there is “zero authorization” in the law for Paxton’s requests to clinics outside of Texas.

“It’s hard not to see this as part and parcel of the AG’s scorched-earth approach to persecuting trans kids and their parents who are being forced to undertake travel outside of Texas to get their kids the medically necessary care they need,” Loewy said.

Texas is one of 19 states with laws restricting minors’ access to gender-affirming care passed in recent years. Republican lawmakers have also sought to restrict transgender youth from using certain public restrooms or playing on sports teams that do not align with their biological gender.

Loewy said that “a handful” of other organizations have received requests for medical records from Paxton. She declined to provide the exact amount or names of organizations the attorney general has contacted.

A QueerMed official could not immediately comment on how the clinic will respond to the attorney general.

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Madaleine Rubin is a reporting fellow and a senior at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Madaleine previously interned at Northwestern Magazine and the Medill Investigative Lab. Her work has appeared in The Palm Beach Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and ProPublica. Born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida, she will graduate in June with journalism and political science degrees.

The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Tribune and is republished by permission.

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Texas drag queen honored by Country legend Dolly Parton

The Country music superstar gifted a guitar in a show of appreciation for drag performer Brigitte Bandit’s LGBTQ+ activism

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Brigitte Bandit/Instagram

AUSTIN, Texas – Known for her political activism including becoming a plaintiff in the Federal lawsuit to stop the ban on drag shows, Brigitte Bandit has a lengthy record of advocacy and activism for the state’s LGBTQ+ community including multiple appearances before Texas lawmakers at the capitol testifying.

Austin’s NBC News affiliate KXAN reported that during one of her appearances before a committee hearing Bandit was photographed holding a copy of a children’s book about Country music superstar Dolly Parton. One of Parton’s executive team saw the photo and passed it along to the singer.

Parton reacted by signing a custom made guitar which was presented to Bandit at a live performance this past weekend.

“Dolly Parton was actually the second concert I ever saw. My first one was Cher, and Dolly was my second. I like to joke that’s why I’m a drag queen now,” Bandit told KXAN. “But Dolly has always been such a huge inspiration. I do call myself the Dolly of Austin. My very first paid booking was a Dolly show. Whenever I started to get a little bit more traction in the drag community, for some reason, Dolly and Brigitte just got together, and I was booked for so many Dolly events that eventually I just ended up becoming the Dolly. Often if somebody wanted a Dolly, I was there.”

Later on her Instagram account Bandit wrote:

never did I ever imagine I’d be sent a custom rhinestoned guitar signed by Dolly herself to me after seeing the work I’ve done this year. I love you @dollyparton thank you so much for helping me find my strength in femininity and kindness 🫶🏻 and thank you to my kingdom castmates for such a special tribute moment @alexander.great.king @selma_bawdy @kinokino.lol (& @channingateem) I love y’all 😭

Reflecting on the previous year and the numerous challenges including the lawsuit, that currently has been blocked in a permanent injunction by a U.S. District Court judge, Bandit told KXAN:

“It’s a public statement to send a guitar to a drag queen in Texas right now that’s fighting this kind of anti-drag and anti-trans bills,” Bandit said, “so I love Dolly for supporting the community and making sure that the people who are doing this feel heard. Everybody’s excited to see that people notice what we’re doing here.”

She added that she plans to only perform once with the guitar before she puts it in a display case of some kind. Her intent she noted is to perform a Dolly tribute with it on the singer’s birthday on Jan. 19.

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Texas restaurant drops NYE drag show after right-wing outage

Piaf had been the target of hundreds of online complaints after ads for the $75-$150 event including “drag entertainers” were circulated

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Photo Credit: Piaf Kitchen + Wine + Bar, Grapevine, Texas.

GRAPEVINE, Texas – A popular restaurant in this city adjacent to the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, noted for its Mediterranean Coastal Cuisine and rooftop bar was forced on Friday to cancel a drag performance as part of its New Year’s Eve celebration show.

Piaf Kitchen + Wine + Bar, had been inundated with hundreds of attack comments on its social media when it announced the line-up for the evening celebration. Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy reported Sunday the restaurant promoted a “drag show” Dec. 31 as part of a circus act at a premium-priced party that also will include a fire thrower, a magician, a palm reader, dinner, music and a DJ.

The restaurant posted Friday on social media, the lineup was changed, “For the safety of our Performers, and Staff, and for a pleasurable experience for our Guests … to ensure a more universally enjoyable and safe experience for everyone.”

Piaf had been the target of hundreds of online complaints after ads for the $75-$150 event including “drag entertainers” were circulated Thursday on social media. One post came from Julie McCarty, leader of the Grapevine-based True Texas Project tea party group, Kennedy noted.

“Heads up, Grapevine,” McCarty wrote: “Who/What will be strolling our beautiful downtown, and how will they be dressed? … This is not the atmosphere we want in Grapevine.”

After the restaurant changed its show line-up, McCarty bragged on her social media page: “Victory! Victory! Let’s repeat it! I just heard from a very reliable source that Piaf has canceled their drag show in Grapevine! Way to go citizens and city council! And thank you to Piaf’s for hearing our concern.”

McCarty/Facebook

McCarty also criticized Piaf for hosting a palm reader, according to her social media posts.

The Texas Tribune reported on Oct. 23, 2023 as part of a profile on neo-Nazis and hate groups in Texas, that McCarty, the founder of True Texas Project, is also a central part of the Defend Texas Liberty network, organizing voter drives, fundraisers and other events to mobilize Tea Party activists and pressure lawmakers from the right. True Texas Project is also labeled as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in part because of statements that McCarty and her husband and co-leader, Fred McCarty, have made about immigrants.

In a Facebook post in the aftermath of the El Paso Walmart massacre, she seemed to express sympathy for shooter’s belief in the “great replacement theory,” a foundational white supremacist belief that there is an intentional, often Jewish-driven, effort to replace white people through immigration, interracial marriage and the LGBTQ+ community.

“I don’t condone the actions, but I certainly understand where they came from,” she wrote.

“You’re not going to demographically replace a once proud, strong people without getting blow-back,” responded Fred McCarty

McCarty has also attended numerous school board meetings in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area supporting anti-LGBTQ+ book bans and is vehemently opposed to support for trans students by public school districts.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s columnist also noted that U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, was among commenters defending Piaf. On Facebook, he called the event a “grown folks New Year’s Eve party.” “Just tell the easily offended to not come,” he wrote. “And why is Palm Reading offensive?”

PIAF statement from its Facebook page.

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Texas AG threatens Seattle Hospital with jail over trans patient data

Paxton sent a demand to Seattle Children’s demanding data on all Texas patients traveling for care, despite having no jurisdiction there

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Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton. (EIM/Los Angeles Blade)

By Erin Reed | AUSTIN, Texas – According to a complaint filed by Seattle Children’s Hospital in Travis County on December 7, the office of the attorney general under Attorney General Ken Paxton has demanded that the hospital turn over patient data for transgender patients who traveled or moved from Texas.

The demands include “no redaction” and apply to any Texas trans youth. The letter also states that the hospital is required by law to “wean children off of” gender-affirming care if they travel or have moved from Texas. The letter lists several other records-related demands and even threatens Seattle hospital workers with jail time if they do not comply.

You can see the excerpts of the request for patients records here:

AG Civil Investigative Demand
AG Civil Investigative Demand: Documents must have no redactions.
AG Civil Investigative Demand: Documents must be produced that answer these questions.

Seattle responded to the request by filing a lawsuit in Travis County, stating they cannot comply because Texas has no jurisdiction in Washington State, and no care was provided by the hospital in Texas. They also point out that the Dormant Commerce Clause, protected by the United States Constitution, “protects the right to interstate travel, including to obtain healthcare services.” By targeting out-of-state hospitals for enforcement of laws that only apply within the jurisdiction of Texas, they “discriminate against healthcare based on an interstate element,” violating constitutional protections, according to the legal filing.

Lastly, Seattle Children’s Hospital cannot comply due to a shield law passed by Washington State. This law bars the hospital from providing any patient data and from responding to subpoenas pursuant to “protected healthcare services” obtained within the jurisdiction of Washington. Protected healthcare services include abortion, reproductive care, and gender-affirming care.

See the relevant statute passed this year in Washington State:

“A business entity that is incorporated, or has its principal place of business, in Washington and provides electronic communication services as defined in RCW 9.73.260 may not knowingly provide records, information, facilities, or assistance in responding to a subpoena, warrant, court order, or other civil or criminal legal process that relates to an investigation into, or the enforcement of, another state’s law that asserts criminal or civil liability for the provision, receipt, attempted provision or receipt, assistance in the provision or receipt, or attempted assistance in the provision or receipt of protected health care services that are lawful in the state of Washington.”

The list of demands is extensive. The demands include medications prescribed, concurrent diagnoses for patients, lab tests, information on the hospital’s standards of care, and a demand that the hospital shows it has weaned trans youth residing or who have resided in Texas from gender-affirming care “as required by” Texas’ ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

While it is uncertain what AG Paxton intends to do with these records, one explanation put forward by Seattle Children’s Hospital is that Paxton’s office aims to stop all Texas residents from obtaining care that is legal in other states, essentially claiming ownership of the out-of-state actions of Texas residents.

This clearly has implications that extend far beyond care. Texas has made headlines recently for attempts to restrict interstate travel for another targeted healthcare service: abortion. Multiple counties in Texas have banned “transporting” pregnant people through the county to obtain an abortion.

Similarly, Texas’ abortion bounty hunter law could target out-of-state travel due to a provision banning aiding and abetting abortion care. If Texas is successful in targeting Seattle Children’s Hospital for trans care, the same strategy could easily be applied to abortion care across the United States.

In 2023, Idaho nearly passed a bill that would give life sentences to anyone transporting transgender youth across state lines for gender-affirming care. That same week, lawmakers in Missouri proposed an amendment that would ban out-of-state abortions. Earlier this year, Idaho passed a travel ban that made “abortion trafficking” across state lines a crime. None of these bills go as far as what the Texas AG is claiming, however; whereas these bills target those who move people across state lines, Texas AG Paxton appears to be targeting the actual clinics in other states directly.

This is also not the first time that AG Paxton has taken extraordinary action to target trans people. Earlier this year, his office attempted to get a list of all trans people from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles by asking for all people who have changed their gender markers. Similarly, in 2022, his office famously determined that gender-affirming care was child abuse, leading to the investigation of trans youth throughout the state.

This case promises to be extraordinarily complex. Seattle Children’s Hospital is challenging the jurisdiction of the demands directly in a Texas state court. Regardless of what the local court decides, the claims are likely to go to the Texas Supreme Court. Given that the claims also have a time limit on them and that appeals in Texas automatically favor the attorney general due to an automatic lifting of stays in the state, Seattle Children’s Hospital workers and providers for trans patients from Texas could be under legal jeopardy. Ultimately, the case presents questions of conflicting state laws and regulation of conduct across state lines, and the implications of those laws could be dire for abortion and trans care nationwide.

You can read the full lawsuit here:

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Texas

New Study: anti-abortion, LGBTQ policies impact state economies

State-level shifts in social & legal rights for women & LGBTQ individuals may have negative impacts on states’ economies and workforces

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The crowds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 as it was announced that the Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. (Blade photo by Josh Alburtus)

By Bryan Luhn | HOUSTON, Texas – Researchers at the University of Houston say major, state-level shifts in social and legal rights available to women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) individuals are affecting interstate migration attitudes and may have negative impacts on states’ economies and workforces.

In a study published in Population Research and Policy Review, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 people from varying backgrounds after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year that ended the constitutional right to an abortion and assessed their views on the desirability of moving to a state with restrictions on access to abortions, gender-affirming medical care, participation in team sports for transgender individuals, teaching about gender and sexuality in schools, same-sex marriage and protections from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“The majority of people who responded to our survey, regardless of their political orientation, indicated they would be less willing to move to states with these policies or that the policies wouldn’t affect their decision to do so,” said Amanda Baumle, lead author and sociology professor at UH. “These policies are much more of a deterrent to migration than an incentive.”

The study found that women, and their partners, gay men, lesbians and those with LGBT family members may choose to avoid states with policies suggesting an unfriendly political environment. The findings also suggest that those in higher-earning occupations, or those who are invested in work or education opportunities, could be discouraged from moving to states with these policies.

“Migration attitudes provide an important benchmark for understanding how abortion and LGBTQ laws and policies influence opinions about the desirability of states as potential destinations,” Baumle said. “If the policies are deterring people from moving to a certain state, there could be negative economic and workforce impacts.”

According to The New York Times, 21 states now ban or restrict abortions. In several other states, there is an ongoing legal battle over abortion access. And the American Civil Liberties Union says state legislatures advanced more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, more than double the number of similar bills introduced last year.

The UH study found most people are averse to moving to states that enacted highly restrictive abortion laws, such as bans on traveling to other states for abortions or policies allowing people to report abortion seekers to authorities. They were the least averse to moving to states with restrictions related to gender-affirming care for children, transgender children playing on sports teams different than their assigned sex at birth and education-related restrictions such as “don’t say gay” laws.

“I think that fits in with a lot of prior research that people perceive children as in need of being sheltered from anything that falls outside of the gender binary or heterosexuality,” said study co-author Elizabeth Gregory, professor of English and director of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at UH. “Something that was somewhat surprising was that restrictions on participation in sports for transgender youth was viewed less negatively for migration and more as a potential draw than any of the other policies.”

One of the key takeaways of the study, Baumle says, is that states continuing to enact these laws and policies may do so at considerable risk of diminishing their state’s attractiveness, or pull, as a potential migration destination.

“Our findings suggest these restrictive laws and policies have implications for migration attitudes beyond women and LGBTQ individuals,” Gregory said. “States, including legislators and business owners, should consider potential social and economic effects of these actions as an important part of their policy deliberations.”

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Bryan Luhn is the Interim Director of Media Relations at the University of Houston. Luhn is an award-winning storyteller and content creator.

The preceding piece was previously published by the University of Houston and is republished with permission.

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Texas’ highest court temporarily halts woman’s emergency abortion

After a district judge ruled Kate Cox could terminate her pregnancy, AG Ken Paxton petitioned the state’s highest court to halt the ruling

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Kate Cox of Dallas is asked a Travis Co. district judge to grant a temporary restraining order against the state abortion ban so she can terminate her pregnancy then on Friday evening, the state Supreme Court temporarily halted the lower court's order. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kate Cox)

By Eleanor Klibanoff | AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and stop a Dallas woman from having an abortion.

Paxton’s office petitioned the high court just before midnight Thursday, after a Travis County district judge granted a temporary restraining order allowing Kate Cox, 31, to terminate her nonviable pregnancy. Paxton also sent a letter to three hospitals, threatening legal action if they allowed the abortion to be performed at their facility.

On Friday evening, the state Supreme Court temporarily halted the lower court’s order but did not rule on the merits of the case. The court said it would rule on the temporary restraining order, but did not specify when.

“While we still hope that the Court ultimately rejects the state’s request and does so quickly, in this case we fear that justice delayed will be justice denied,” said Cox’s lawyer, Molly Duane, in a Friday evening statement.

This is the first time an actively pregnant adult woman has gone to court to get an abortion since before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. A similar case was filed in Kentucky on Friday.

In the petition, Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to rule quickly, saying that “each hour [the temporary restraining order] remains in place is an hour that Plaintiffs believe themselves free to perform and procure an elective abortion.”

“Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result,” the filing said. “Post hoc enforcement is no substitute, so time is of the essence.”

The Texas Supreme Court is currently also considering a similar case, Zurawski v. Texas, in which 20 women claim they were denied medically necessary abortions for their complicated pregnancies due to the state’s new laws. The state has argued those women do not have standing to sue because, unlike Cox, they are not currently seeking abortions.

In the initial lawsuit, Cox’s attorneys with the Center for Reproductive Rights argued she cannot wait the weeks or months it might take the Texas Supreme Court to rule.

Now, the high court must consider many of the same arguments as those in Zurawski v. Texas, but on a much tighter timeline.

The central question is whether a lethal fetal anomaly qualifies a pregnant patient for an abortion under the narrow medical exception to the state’s near-total abortion ban. Cox’s lawyers argue that continuing this nonviable pregnancy poses a threat to her life and future fertility, thus necessitating an abortion.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed, saying it would be a “miscarriage of justice” to force Cox to continue the pregnancy. The state disagreed, telling the Supreme Court that Guerra Gamble’s ruling “opens the floodgates to pregnant mothers procuring an abortion” beyond the scope of the medical exception.

Separately, Duane sent a letter to Guerra Gamble, asking her to bring Paxton in for a hearing on his letter threatening legal action against hospitals that allow Cox to have an abortion.

“The repeated misrepresentations of the Court’s [order], coupled with explicit threats of criminal and civil enforcement and penalties, serve only to cow the hospitals from providing Ms. Cox with the healthcare that she desperately needs,” Duane wrote. “Plaintiffs respectfully request the Court hold a hearing so Defendant Paxton can explain to Your Honor why he should not be sanctioned.”

Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, on behalf of President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, condemned Paxton’s comments Friday.

“A Texas woman was just forced to beg for life-saving health care in court and now any doctor who provides her the care she urgently needs is being threatened with punishment including a lifetime prison sentence,” Escobar said in a statement. “This story is shocking, it’s horrifying, and it’s heartbreaking.”

William Melhado contributed to this story.

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Eleanor Klibanoff is the women’s health reporter, based in Austin, where she covers abortion, maternal health care, gender-based violence and LGBTQ issues, among other topics. She started with the Tribune in 2021, and was previously with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in Louisville, where she reported, produced and hosted the Peabody-nominated podcast, “Dig.”

Eleanor has worked at public radio stations in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Missouri, as well as NPR, and her work has aired on “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition” and “Here & Now.” She is conversational in Spanish. Eleanor was born in Philadelphia and raised in Atlanta, and attended The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The preceding article was previously published by The Texas Tribune and is republished by permission.

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