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TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST REMOVED, BANNED FROM TEXAS STATEHOUSE FOR DISPLAYING BANNER IN SUPPORT OF TRANS YOUTH
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
ACTIVIST IS THIRD TRANSGENDER PERSON TO BE PENALIZED FOR SPEAKING UP AT A STATEHOUSE WHERE LAWMAKERS ARE PROPOSING AND PASSING BILLS TARGETING TRANS PEOPLE
(Austin, Texas and New York, NY – May 2, 2023) – GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization; and Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans, are responding to the removal and banning of a transgender Texan from the statehouse in Austin after displaying a banner that read “Let Trans Kids Grow Up” in the capitol rotunda today.
Sofia Sepulveda was protesting SB 14, a proposed ban on life-saving healthcare for transgender youth. Texas lawmakers are considering additional dangerous bills that would ban access to sports, ban or heavily restrict drag performances, ban discussion of LGBTQ issues or people in school curricula, and more. In total, there are over 140 bills pending that would codify discrimination against LGBTQ Texans. Texas leads the nation in a record-breaking year nationwide of proposed anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country.
After displaying the banner, Sepulveda was forcibly removed by Department of Public Safety officers and banned from entering the statehouse for a full year.
Sepulveda is the Community Engagement & Advocacy Manager of Equality Texas, a board member of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, and a first-generation Mexican American transgender woman who has been a community organizer in San Antonio for the past decade. Sepulveda was recognized in 2019 as one of the 25 most influential women in San Antonio for her work in healthcare.
“I am a proud Texas resident, a Mexican-American, and a transgender woman, and I deserve to have my voice heard just like any other Texan invested in the policies shaping our lives,” said Sofia Sepulveda (she/her/hers). “I regularly exercise my rights to participate in statehouse rallies and activities, and I’m familiar with the rules and regulations. This is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate me and members of other marginalized communities from speaking our truth. I know I have done nothing wrong and I refuse to be silenced.”
“Sofia’s removal and banishment from the Texas statehouse simply for her peaceful participation in the democratic process is unbelievably harsh and an unacceptable assault on basic freedoms,” said Sarah Kate Ellis (she/her/hers), CEO and President of GLAAD. “No one should be threatened for sharing their values and viewpoints on the issues that most matter to them and their communities. Regardless of their individual political stances, Texas legislators must come together to speak up for all residents’ rights to make their voices heard.”
Sofia’s story is the latest in a number of high-profile examples across the country in which out LGBTQ elected officials, allies, and community members across the country have been disciplined or punished for signaling public support for LGBTQ people and gun safety reform.
- Just last week, Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first openly transgender member of the Montana House of Representatives, was censured by her colleagues and prevented from being allowed to participate in a floor debate about a proposed ban on health care for transgender youth earlier.
- In early March, protestors opposing a ban on health care for transgender residents were escorted out of a House floor hearing. A transgender man was thrown by a state trooper to the floor of a stairwell and handcuffed as he was held face down.
- Shortly afterwards, Republican House leaders announced a censure of Rep. Mauree Turner, a black Muslim legislator and Oklahoma’s first and only nonbinary elected representative, claiming that Rep. Turner “impeded law enforcement” by helping one of the protestors in their office. Rep. Turner continues to be censured to date as Oklahoma legislators continue considering a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills.
- In April, three state lawmakers in Tennessee faced disciplinary action following their participation in a gun violence protest shortly after a school shooting in Nashville. Resolutions for expulsions of two of the three lawmakers – two black men, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson – passed with a two-thirds majority, while the third – a white woman, Rep. Gloria Johnson – failed to pass by one vote. (The lawmakers were all later reinstated.)
- Just last week, news broke that Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt is being investigated for a “conflict of interest” for having a transgender child and for speaking out in an informed way on the topic of health care for transgender youth in her state.
Sofia is available for interviews with members of the media. To schedule an interview with Sofia, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Equality Texas: We envision a Texas where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans and their families have full equality in the hearts and minds of our fellow Texans and in all areas of the law. Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
For GLAAD Media Institute Alum Kevin Anderson, interviews with journalists have become increasingly prevalent in…