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How SB6 will hurt people

Nell Gaither counts the ways.

SB 6 identifies a target without naming it and erases policy intended to offer at least some protection for vulnerable populations, building a legal excuse for harming those people and for coercing them not to fight back. Once the law is in place, the “responsible adults” will turn their backs and let others carry out the actual violence.

For several years now, our schools have been expanding policy that protects trans children. This is much-needed, because about 77 percent of trans and gender-nonconforming students experience harassment or other violence due to their gender. About one-third of that violence comes from teachers and staff; 36 percent report being disciplined for fighting back against their assailant. Because violence against trans and gender-diverse kids is so pervasive, schools have increasingly allowed students to use gender-affirming restrooms and changing areas because not doing so identifies them as trans and makes them a target for violence. SB 6 would eradicate these protections for the estimated 13,800 transgender youth ages 13 to 17 in Texas.

Employment protections have followed the same trajectory. About 80 percent of trans Americans face discrimination or violence, or take steps to avoid violence, at work. Denying access to appropriately gendered spaces is a sure way to place a target on them for violence. Wouldn’t we rather support positive engagement with employees than set up barriers? Encouraging violence could drive trans Texans out of the workforce and into underground economies and emergency access to social services.

General social ostracization also increases negative social and health outcomes. One measure of this is the lifetime attempted suicide rate: 40 percent for trans people compared to 4.6 percent for the general population.

And finally, SB 6 will negatively impact trans people in how it criminalizes assault. Marginalized groups tend to be disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, and the trans community is no exception. As one trans survivor of a sexual assault described their experience: “The legal system would blame us for our own rapes and say we had it coming.”

Lifelong problems increase as a result of discrimination and violence in schools, where trans people often underperform or drop out, and in workplaces, which deny us jobs or set up barriers that impede not just success, but often simple continued employment.

We’ve already established that SB6 singles out transgender people and that its passage will harm them. Gaither is just detailing the ways in which that harm will take place. What else is there to say about this?

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