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San Antonio LGBT Enraged Walkout on Bathroom Bill Debate

San Antonio LGBT Enraged Walkout on Bathroom Bill Debate
Advocates nearly clear the room Waving Our Rainbow Flag

Transgender activist Lauryn Farris led enraged LGBT activists chanting “Trans Lives matter” storming out of a televised Bathroom Bill Townhall Thursday night. The action happened only a few minutes into the program prompting WOAI host Randy Beamer to frame the walkout as inevitable theatrics.

“It is unfortunate that WOAI choose to have an unbalanced and unfair town hall.” Transgender activist Lauryn Farris told Planet Trans “We look forward to an opportunity to have a conversation that is something other than an SB6 pep rally. We had planned ahead based on the list of speakers we had seen and even the first few responses showed that anti-SB6 real information was going to get little or no airtime, especially on air/TV. It was time to leave and quit giving this event validity.”

The WOAI panel included two outspoken anti-trans bigots, both members of known hate groups who baited the lone transgender panel member in their opening statement.

Mike Knuffke from the San Antonio Family Association, an AFA spinoff and  Weston Martinez, founder of the Conservative Republicans of Texas,who’s 2013 petition effort failed to attain the required signatures needed to force a recall election of Councilman Diego Bernal for his support of the city’s LGBT-inclusive protections.

Sound familar, becuse it’s the same dirty tricks topped with the same lies.

Republican donor Steven Hotze from Conservative Republicans of Texas begun running this vile TV ad paid for by Hotze in the San Antonio district of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, according to the San Antonio express news

Straus has voiced his displeasure with the legislation, which would require transgender people in Texas to use bathrooms and locker rooms in schools and other public buildings that match their biological sex.

The ad warns: “Unless SB 6 is passed, any man at any time could enter a women’s bathroom by claiming to be a woman. No one would be exempt. Even registered sex offenders could follow women or girls into the bathroom.”

The black-and-white ad shows a man entering a women’s bathroom — cue the horror-movie tropes of blinking lights and dripping faucets — followed by a shot of a little girl walking into a stall.

The man enters the girl’s stall and looms over her. Before he shuts the door, we see the child’s shocked face as a narrator intones, “Tell Speaker Joe Straus to pass SB 6. Joe, the safety of our wives and daughters is priceless.”

This ad is outrageous, but not for the reasons that Hotze might have hoped.

“For one thing, it’s fiction. Police in San Antonio, for instance, have received no complaints involving sexual assaults in public restrooms. Also, it’s sickening and exploitative” writes Brian Chasnoff in his article Outrage is the right response.

Five of Texas’s Largest City’s Have Protected TRANS People In Public Accommodations For Years, this without an uptick in associated criminal activity or violations of any sort.

Those on the panel who testified against the SB6 included Ramiro Cavazos, president of San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Shaneka Calloway, a cisgender therapist and Kolby Balcom, the lone transgender voice.

San Antonio LGBT Enraged Walkout on Bathroom Bill Debate
Weston Martinez

The proponents of the bathroom bill repeatedly argued that SB6 doesn’t target transgender people and weren’t aware of a single instance justifying segregation of transgender people.

They have however historically opposed what they term as ‘special rights’ such as the San Antonio transgender-inclusive ordinance.

Having vehemently anti-transgender activists on the panel would be akin to having the local KKK debate the merits of lynching with people of color.

This was lost on Weston Martinez who said during the town hall that “he didn’t know a single black man who woke one day to suddenly to discover he was black.”

This deliberate conflation of gender and race is a common deflection tactic used by transphobes trying to dehumanize the gender diverse by suggesting gender could be suddenly discovered or changed daily.

In all likelihood, there is merit to Martinez’s claim that he has no personal knowledge of a black man’s life.

It is equally important to acknowledge that Martinez doesn’t know, or care, that all but a few of the record 27 transgender murders last year in the US were black people. It is also understandable that this was a key triggering factor for the walkout as these are the black lives that he so cavalierly invalidated.

San Antonio LGBT Enraged Walkout on Bathroom Bill Debate

The LGBT community understands that #BlackLivesMatter from personal experience. Any attempt to dismiss the loss of our own with bigoted ignorance is intolerable.

GLAAD weighed in.

“By failing to provide equal representation in the debate on Senate Bill 6 – a measure that would openly discriminate against transgender Texans – WOAI and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group are blatantly ignoring the basic journalistic responsibility of fairness,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “WOAI should give equal time to LGBTQ Texans and real experts who know trans students are the only ones who will be harmed by this discriminatory un-American policy.”

Amanda Emery, executive producer of news at WOAI and KABB, and Blaise Labbe, director of news for WOAI and KABB, countered that they did reach out to many in the trans community, including parents, but were unsuccessful in finding more to participate.

Besides, Emery said the event was designed to be about all aspects of SB6, not just a discussion about transgender youth. “The economic impact, the religious impact, the psychological impact on both sides, and the transgender (community) was obviously part of that discussion as well,” She Said.

Out In San Antonio reports

No one from the station had attempted to contact them prior to the town hall according to representatives contacted from the state’s largest organization, the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) based Austin and San Antonio

This being raw video there are a number of blank times, Lauryn Farris leads a walkout of the town hall at the 12-minute mark.

Kelli Busey
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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