A group of transgender students in Texas have banded together to create a moving video in which they open up about the struggles they encounter because of their trans identity.
The students, who all attend Texas University, created the video in conjunction with GLAAD as part of a protest against the controversial Senate Bill SB6 which will prevent transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The law, which would prevent transgender people from accessing a lot of public spaces, has faced wide criticism for the underlying discrimination.
Tahlia, a student who appeared in the video, said that the bill takes peoples “fears and prejudices and enacts them into law”.
She said: “I know that there is a lot of fear and confusion around trans people, mostly just from misinformation or lack of information. This bill represents the worst of these misguided fears.
“It emboldens those who fear trans people (particularly trans women because of the man-in-a-dress trope) and gives them legal backing to discriminate against us.
Thalia added that she feared gun violence will increase if the bill were passed.
“Particularly in Texas, where people love their guns and can now legally take them more places than ever, I fear having a gun pulled on me because some citizen thinks they’re doing the right thing under the law by trying to police a woman’s bathroom.”
The students spoke about how they had already faced unprecedented violence. Bleach balloons had been thrown at LGBT people as well as people of colour.
Thatcher Combs, a graduate from the university, was attacked by a group of cis men prior to his transition because he had been seen using the female restroom (which corresponded with the sex on his birth certificate).
“I was at a bar with friends and I went into the restroom and as I walked through the door, I was pulled out by four or five cisgender men who deemed that I was going into the wrong bathroom.
“As they beat me up, they called me a pervert. The beating didn’t stop until they ‘realized’ that I was, indeed, going into the right restroom.”
For Thatcher, and his peers, the bill doesn’t mean just making transgender people uncomfortable when using the bathroom. It also means giving others the power to “police one another and subjectively judge a person based on appearance”.
“This is about making people fit into boxes that others deem ‘appropriate’,” Thatcher explained.
“But who gets to decide what is ‘appropriate’? Everyone has the right to self-expression, which is a form of freedom, and I think everyone can agree that we don’t have the right to tell someone else how to look and dress.”
Thalia added that she had always tried to focus on her own happiness, but that became a more difficult task with the “overwhelming sense of dread” that she lives with day in day out.
She added: “There’s no good way to describe the feeling of watching your very humanity being debated.”
Watch the moving video here: