CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Texas bill targeted towards the LGBTQ+ kids is making its way through the Texas legislature.
“I say just listen to us," said Charlie Apple, a senior at Veterans Memorial High School who has identified as a man for the past four years. “Because while we are trans folks and that is a very important part of our identity, we are also children."
Apple used to be on the wrestling team during his freshman year before injuring himself.
Recently, a Texas House Committee voted 8-4 along party lines to advance House Bill 25. If approved, the bill will ban transgender youth from participating on the sports team of the gender to which they identify.
Texas Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) authored the Senate version of the bill.
“We must always protect the safety and fairness in female sports," Perry said on social media. "That is why I am proud the Texas Senate passed SB 2, which bans biological males from competing in female sports. Female student-athletes deserve their place in the record books for their hard work and dedication.”
Perry's legislation is being challenged by the Rev. Christina Hockman of Unitarian Universalist Church of Corpus Christi.
“Their own state is telling them we don’t want you to be free to do what you want to," Hockman said. "We don’t necessarily want you here, we don’t value you living your true authentic self and your true authentic life."
Hockman said it can be difficult for people who aren't transgender to understand what the law would do to members of that community. She’s encouraging those who do not understand to educate themselves.
Last month, several LGBTQ+ groups, and allies lobbied at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. They said they went to show love and support for the transgender community in Texas to voice their opposition to the proposed bills.
“Because whenever I was younger and first transitioning, I felt like no one cared," Apple said.
Kitana Sanchez, who is transgender and also co-facilitator at the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance, said transgender youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide as their peers.
"Just talking to them and understanding what they are going through, these bills really really put a damper on their mental health," Sanchez said. "We are affirming and letting them know that trans youth, you have a place and we want you to survive and thrive."
That support helps the transgender community realize that all are not against them.
“Trans kids we are constantly on the defensive," Apple said. "And we deserve protection, we do not deserve to have to constantly stand up for our basic rights and I want to make sure that you know, no other kid ever has to feel like they are not worthy of being a child."
With HB 25 advanced by the Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, it now heads to the full chamber of the house. If the bill passes there, it will head to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved.
For LGBTQ+ mental health support, call the Trevor's Project 24/7 support at 1-866-488-7386.
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 741741 from anywhere in the country to reach a trained crisis counselor.