Dozens wait to testify on ‘bathroom bill’ rewrite

The House Committee on State Affairs was scheduled to hear public testimony Wednesday on HB 2899, a rewrite of Texas' controversial "bathroom bill." (Photo: CBS Austin)

Dozens of people waited hours at the Texas State Capitol to share their personal stories related to the so-called bathroom bill on Wednesday. The House Committee on State Affairs was scheduled to hear public testimony on HB 2899, a rewrite of the controversial SB 6. While the rewrite substituted language, opponents say it’s still discriminatory.

When lawmakers took up SB 6, otherwise known as the bathroom bill, Lou Weaver was at the capitol for 21 hours.

“We heard a lot of disparaging things that day,” says Weaver, the transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas. He says the message they heard was one of inequality.

“Hearing that stuff is really a drain on you emotionally...mentally, and it becomes physically a heavy weight to carry,” says Weaver.

Weaver was back at the capitol Wednesday. “As a transgender man, I have a lot of privilege. I'm a 5’7” guy. I have a deep voice. I have a beard,” he says. For other members of the transgender community, speaking up for themselves is much more difficult.

“Saying, ‘Hey, I’m a transgender person,' and knowing what that could mean to somebody-- whether they would lose their job, their place of employment, their home, their family... there's a lot of risk coming out as being a transgender person,” Weaver explains.

Tuesday, a group of mothers, teachers, business owners and community leaders came together to say they do not support the state's so-called bathroom bills. Hours later Governor Greg Abbott said he does.

The bathroom bill’s rewrite aims to keep discrimination laws decided at the federal level which currently does not recognize sexual orientation or gender identity. About sixty people are expected to testify against the bill late Wednesday and Weaver will be there alongside them.

“When I'm doing this I personally feel like I'm saying to somebody, ‘Please see me for who I am. Please see me as a valid person and tell me that you're going to treat me and allow me the same equality as everyone else,’” Weaver says.

Testimony is anticipated to last for several hours. If the bill is voted out of committee Wednesday, the next stop is the full house and then the governor's desk.