Activists fought to defeat 98% of the anti-trans laws the Texas legislature tried to pass this year. But that victory, Adri Perez writes, is bittersweet.

This piece was originally published in Harper's Bazaar

On a sunny October afternoon, transgender kids, their families, and the advocates who support them gathered outside the south steps of the Texas Capitol building in Austin for a rally. In a year when dozens of anti-trans bills were introduced over the course of four legislative sessions, rallying at the Capitol was familiar and painful. We had been here many times before—for each of the seven hearings held on bills attacking trans rights. This was our last opportunity to formally speak out against a bill attempting to ban transgender kids from playing on school sports teams as their authentic selves. Before we headed up the pink marble steps, I led the crowd in a chant: “I believe that we will win.”

This has been a long year for trans rights—and not just in Texas. Legislatures in more than 30 states have been aggressively targeting trans communities. Though the national landscape is bleak, it is particularly painful in my home state. Texas alone accounted for more than a quarter of the anti-trans bills filed in 2021. For 10 arduous months, transgender kids and those who love them showed up time and again to testify in defense of their humanity.

For me, working alongside these families has been gutting and deeply personal. It was the eve of National Coming Out Day in 2010 and I was 17 years old, embarking on my senior year at a Catholic all-girls school. After years of knowing who I really was, I was compelled to post a fill-in-the-blank Facebook template to commemorate the day. I selected “same-gender loving” from a drop-down menu, and within two clicks of a button, I was “out of the closet.”

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