AUSTIN (CBS11) – Debate over two proposed bathroom privacy bills stirred emotions at the Texas Capitol Friday.
More than 250 people testified during a hearing before the State Senate’s State Affairs Committee.
Just outside a Capitol rotunda, opponents rallied against SB 3 and SB 91 amid chants of, “What do we do? Stand-up, fight back!” and “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous, don’t mess with us.”
People on both sides of the issue started lining up in the hallways to testify before sunrise.
Under the bills proposed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, people would be required to use the multi-occupancy bathrooms and restrooms inside local government buildings and public schools that match their birth identity.
Among those who spoke, Jess Herbst, the Mayor of New Hope in Collin County, who’s a transgender woman. “This is the civil rights movement of our time.”
Nicole Hudgens of Texas Values says she’s part of the majority that’s silent no longer about their support for the bills.
“We know from or thousands of calls, emails, and trips down to Austin that have taken place.”
Trayce Bradford, a mother from Dallas who’s part of the group Mom Caucus, also supports the legislation.
“We are not people without compassion but at the same time, there have to be some boundaries and I do have concerns for safety and I don’t think that makes me a hater.”
During the hearing, Ethan Avanzino, a transgender man from Dallas, raised a question no one answered.
He was born a female, which is on his birth certificate.
But he told Senators that with his beard and hairy chest, he uses the men’s room, which would be illegal under the bills.
If he had to use the ladies’ room, Avanzino said, “I think I would cause a stir, not the kind of stir that I want to. I do not want to scare anyone.”
Bradford agreed Avanzino doesn’t belong in the ladies’ room.
“I do think that’s a problem and I think that is where I say let’s sit down and have this conversation.”
No one CBS11 spoke with Friday changed their minds.
Sen. Kolkhorst said during the hearing her bills may be amended when the bills go before the full Senate.
The legislation was approved by the Senate committee. It now heads to the full Senate, where it’s likely to pass.
But the bills’ fate, and similar measures proposed in the House face an uncertain future because Speaker Joe Straus has strongly opposed the bills.