The gloves are off in the Texas gubernatorial race, with Beto O'Rourke and Greg Abbott set to rally their respective base until election day this November.
Both candidates come from very different backgrounds, and this is on full display in their policies and campaign rhetoric.
O'Rourke on Thursday shared a photo of himself wearing a t-shirt that read "Don't mess with trans kids". This is seen as a show of support for the LGBTQ+ community, which is often targeted by Republican policies.
Governor Abbott and his administration, namely Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, on the other hand, have been staunch opponents of transgender rights. In 2016, they filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its directive that schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity.
In April 2021, Governor Abbott indicated that he was ready to sign Texas Senate bill SB29 into law, which had been approved by the Senate earlier in the month, despite protests from LGBTQ rights groups and business leaders across the state. The law would have mandated that transgender student-athletes play on sports teams based on their sex assigned at birth, instead of their gender identity. A clear attack on transgender rights and would have had devastating consequences for the transgender community in Texas. The bill failed to reach the deadline for passing in the chamber.
SB29 is just one example of the many attacks on LGBTQ rights that Governor Abbott and his administration have pushed for since taking office. He has also attempted to pass a "religious freedom" bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and has cut funding for HIV prevention programs.
Governor Abbott has been critical of Beto O'Rourke's policies, and has accused him of being too liberal for Texas.
O'Rourke has been quoted as saying, "I want to say this to trans Texans: I will always fight alongside you to ensure that you're able to live freely as yourself, free from attacks and discrimination”.
Despite slow progress recently, transgender people in the US continue to face discrimination and inequality.
According to a journal published to the National Library of Medicine, one of the key issues facing transgender people in the US is access to healthcare. Trans people often struggle to find doctors who are willing to treat them, and they can be denied care or experience discrimination when seeking medical treatment. This has a real impact on their health and wellbeing.
The journal goes on to describe how transgender people also face widespread discrimination in other areas of life, including employment, education, and housing. They are more likely to experience poverty and homelessness, and are at a higher risk of violence and abuse.
Despite these challenges, there have been some recent victories for transgender rights in the US. In 2015, the Department of Justice issued a ruling stating that transgender people are protected from discrimination under federal law. This was a major step forward, and it is hoped that more progress will be made in the years to come.
Will the Texas gubernatorial race be seen as a bellwether for the country, with pundits eager to see how the issue of transgender rights will play out at a state level?
It will be interesting to see how the culture clash politics play out in this race, and how the candidates' stances on transgender rights will impact the vote.
What do you think, Texas?
Which candidate will get your support for Texas Governor this November?
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