UT students express opposition to “bathroom bill” passing out of committee

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Public testimony during the Senate committee hearing for Senate Bill 6, also known as the “bathroom bill,” lasted approximately 12 hours with 90 percent of public witnesses testifying against the bill, which passed out of committee Tuesday.

Among these witnesses was third-year law student Anya Morgan who said she testified because she has a personal connection to the issue.

“This will have very real repercussions for people that I love in my life, and so if I have to stay for 18 hours, I’ll do it,” Morgan said.

Morgan said her connection with members of the transgender community both in her legal work and personal life inspired her to publicly testify against SB 6.

“I spoke about my personal experiences with trans folks. My girlfriend is a transwoman, my supervisor is a transwoman and I have a lot of friends who are transwomen and I just thought, ‘I use the bathroom with them all the time and it’s fine,’ and it feels silly that I have to say that,” Morgan said.

In addition to having transgender friends, Morgan works with the Texas Law Name and Gender Marker Project, which helps transgender people change their gender on legal documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports. While Morgan said her organization provides services for free, the process to change the gender on birth certificates is complicated and expensive.

Several other UT students provided written testimony expressing opposition to the bill. Erin Giglio, a biology Ph.D. candidate, said she submitted testimony because she felt qualified based on her background as a scientist and as a member of the LGBTQ community.

“I look at this law and I think about the people that have harassed me and my friends on the street,” Giglio said. “I feel scared for myself and for my friends, that acts of harassment, acts of bigotry, acts of violence are going to be a lot more common.”

While Giglio said she is disappointed the committee decided to pass the bill, she said she is not surprised.

“The people can say what they want, but the legislators will ignore us and ignore anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way they do,” Giglio said. “I’m hopeful that perhaps the wider Texas Senate will do the right thing.”

Alejandrina Guzman and Micky Wolf, student body president-elect and vice president-elect, respectively, also submitted written testimony to the Senate committee.

In their testimony posted to Facebook, Guzman and Wolf said the legislation is discriminatory and goes against the core values of the University.

“We seek simply to represent all Longhorns regardless of where they come from, whom they love, or how they identify — this legislation does not accomplish that goal,” the testimony said. “We stand in solidarity with our transgender peers and allies across our campus in opposition to this bill.”

Shilpa Bakre, communications strategist for the Office of the President, said although the University does not currently have a policy regarding the use of gender-specific facilities, they will continue to act in accordance with state and federal laws.

“Our practice is that each situation is individually reviewed based on its unique set of facts and specific circumstances,” Bakre said.

SB 6 is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor next Monday, March 13.