Tuesday cartoon

As the mom of a transgender boy, I nearly lost my son because my home state of Texas does not have express and enduring protections for LGBTQ people under state law. That’s why I’ll be watching the Supreme Court today as they hear three cases about discrimination against LGBTQ people. Their upcoming ruling will determine if federal law protects LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination. The stakes for LGBTQ Texans like my son couldn’t be higher.

When I gave birth to my first child, I thought I had a baby girl. It didn’t take long for my child to let me know that I had thought wrong. By two years old, my son Greyson was making protests. At first, these protests were, “Mom, I hate pink,” and “Mom, I don’t want to wear this. This isn’t what boys wear.” I was a tomboy growing up, so I didn’t think much about it and simply exchanged dresses for trousers.

Two days before his 13th birthday, Greyson came out as a transgender boy. I had a lot of questions about what it means to be transgender, but what scared me most was that Greyson was so afraid I wouldn’t want him around as his true self. I told him he was the same funny, amazing, goofy child that I’ve been raising and that we would go through this journey together.

There’s no guidebook for raising a transgender child. I began learning as much as I could about how to support my son. With the help of our extended family, we bought Greyson a new wardrobe, cut his hair and began using male pronouns. We found a great therapist to help us and, although we all made lots of mistakes, Greyson was patient and we learned together.

Things got really tough when I went to my son’s school to tell them about his transition. The school fought against us at every turn. They refused to use Greyson’s name, instead insisting on using his birth name. Greyson contracted several UTIs as a result of “holding it” all day because he was not able to use the boys’ bathroom at school.

With the help of a local nonprofit we sued the school to compel them to use his correct name and pronoun everywhere except the most official forms. The ruling gave us some relief, but this long struggle took its toll on my brave, strong and exhausted son. He finished his school year from home and we continued to home school all through his high school years. I was amazed and grateful for the support from our local home school community.

Greyson will graduate high school a year early and looks forward to his future. While I would love for him to stay close to home, I’m relieved that he’s not going to college in Texas where the LGBTQ community lacks statewide protections. Because Texas is one of 30 states without express and enduring protections at the state level, federal protections are critical for my son. As a parent, this is life and death for members of the LGBTQ community.

The Supreme Court has the opportunity to affirm that all LGBTQ people should be able to work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work.

“The three cases the Supreme Court is about to hear are the most consequential cases for LGBTQ people since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality,” says Jon Davidson, legal counsel for Freedom for All Americans, the bipartisan campaign to win federal nondiscrimination protections. “The stakes for our community could not be higher. In these cases, the court has the chance to affirm — or deny — that all LGBTQ people should be able to work hard and support themselves and their families without fear of harassment or discrimination at work. And regardless of whether we win or lose at the court, Congress will need to act to pass the Equality Act, which will ensure express and enduring protections for LGBTQ people in all public spaces.”

“While this is first and foremost a human issue, it is also very clearly an issue of economic competitiveness,” says Jessica Shortall, managing director of Texas Competes. “That’s why 206 major businesses — many with operations and employees in Texas — signed a ‘friend of the court’ brief urging the court to uphold the precedents set by multiple federal courts and agencies. Job creators know that ending workplace discrimination is good for businesses and for the economy. Individual workplace nondiscrimination policies are no substitute for the law, and in a dynamic economy with a mobile workforce, employers value consistency and predictability in employment nondiscrimination protections.”

No matter how the Supreme Court rules, we have more work to do to make sure kids like my son are fully protected from discrimination in their daily lives. We must pass a statewide bill that protects all LGBTQ Texans and, ultimately, Congress must pass a bill that provides these same protections for all LGBTQ Americans. I am proud to advocate on behalf of my son and all transgender kids and I urge the Supreme Court, Congress and Texas lawmakers to affirm dignity and respect for all LGBTQ Americans.

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Ms. Rodriguez writes on behalf of Equality Texas, a statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing and collaboration. The organization helped pass the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act through the House and brought national attention to anti-gay hate crimes in Texas.

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