Texas police ‘violently arrest’ trans people protesting life-threatening healthcare bill

Side by side images of LGBTQ+ advocate Adri Pérez being thrown to the ground, physically restrained and arrested by law enforcement during protest against proposed ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in Texas

Trans rights activists were “pinned down”, arrested and dragged out of the Texas Capitol for protesting an anti-trans healthcare bill.

Protesters descended on the Texas Capitol during a debate on Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), an all-out ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors, on Tuesday (2 May).

Members of the Texas House looked set to pass the bill – which has already passed in the Senate – but the demonstration stalled the vote.

The peaceful protest culminated in confrontations with Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers, resulting in arrests and some being banned from the statehouse.

Video shows Adri Pérez, an organising director with the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), being thrown to the ground, physically restrained, handcuffed and arrested by troopers.

Pérez said on Twitter: “In this moment the most upsetting thing is that in the video being widely circulated, it clearly shows me doing absolutely nothing wrong.”

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“Yet, I was still thrown to the ground, pinned by four men, mistreated, and detained… all to be let go 8 hours later. Free and still harmed.”

Pérez said police tried to charge them with “two misdemeanours and one felony”. They were released late on Tuesday evening.

Trans activist Sofia Sepulveda was forcibly removed by DPS officers after displaying a giant banner that read “Let trans kids grow up” in the capitol rotunda.

She’s banned from entering the statehouse for a year as a result.

LGBTQ+ advocates unfurl a giant banner reading "Let trans kids grow up" in the Texas Capitol rotunda as lawmakers consider a proposed ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in Texas
Sofia Sepulveda was removed and banned from the Texas statehouse after displaying a banner that read “Let trans kids grow up” in the capitol rotunda. (Instagram/Equality Texas)

Sepulveda – who is a community engagement and advocacy manager of Equality Texas as well as a board member of the TENT – said she deserves to have her “voice heard just like any other Texan invested in the policies shaping our lives”.

“I regularly exercise my rights to participate in statehouse rallies and activities, and I’m familiar with the rules and regulations,” Sepulveda said.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate me and members of other marginalised communities from speaking our truth.

“I know I have done nothing wrong and I refuse to be silenced.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, described Sepulveda’s removal and banishment from the statehouse “simply for her peaceful participation in the democratic process” as “unbelievably harsh and an unacceptable assault on basic freedoms”.

“No one should be threatened for sharing their values and viewpoints on the issues that most matter to them and their communities,” Ellis said.

“Regardless of their individual political stances, Texas legislators must come together to speak up for all residents’ rights to make their voices heard.”

The All In For Equality coalition condemned the treatment of protestors at the Texas Capitol.

The group – composed of the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, TFN, Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Human Rights Campaign and other organisations – said they’re “deeply disturbed” by what happened and are “closely monitoring the situation”.

“We witnessed violence and arrests today against Texans, many of whom are queer and transgender and who would be harmed directly by this bill,” the group said.

“Hundreds of people came to the Capitol to express their concerns about a bill that would ban life-saving health care for transgender youth.

“That bill was halted today based on a procedural point of order, but Texas lawmakers are still threatening to advance it.

“We urge them to show compassion to transgender youth and will hold them to account to protect the freedoms of all Texans.”

SB 14 would block trans kids from accessing puberty blockers and hormone therapy – healthcare that has been described by activists, researchers and medical professionals as life-saving and medically necessary.

Under the hateful bill, trans youth already receiving such gender-affirming care would have to be “weaned off” and eventually stop taking them, effectively forcibly detransitioning young kids.

PinkNews has reached out to DPS for comment.

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