The term transgender means that someone's gender identity does not match up with the gender identity they were assigned at birth. This person may identify as male or female. This person may also identify as non-binary or gender-fluid, meaning they do not identify as male or female.
Transgender people discover they are transgender at different times in their lives. Some transgender people realize when they are young children, and some realize when they are fully grown adults.
Transgender people may choose to transition their appearance and body to look like their gender identity. This transitioning can include haircuts, makeup, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), sex change surgeries, and more.
In Texas, there is a history of discrimination against the transgender community, and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. There is no specific state law that creates a right to be protected based on someone's status as transgender.
There are five bills targeting the transgender community that have passed through Texas' state legislature.
House Bill 46 proposed that local governments and schools cannot protect transgender people from discrimination in bathrooms, and House Bill 50 proposed that Texas schools cannot protect transgender students from discrimination in bathrooms. Both bills failed to pass.
Senate Bill 3 proposed prohibiting transgender people from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity in publicly-run places like schools and hospitals. This bill passed in the Senate, but did not pass in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 23 proposed that local governments cannot pass nondiscrimination laws to protect transgender people, and other groups unprotected under state law. Senate Bill 91 was similar to Senate Bill 3, but also proposed prohibiting local government protecting transgender people from discrimination in sports. Both of these bills failed.
According to the Keilich Law Firm, a law firm specializing in employment law, 79 percent of transgender people in Texas reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment at work. Furthermore, 26 percent of transgender people lost a job on the basis of being transgender, and 45 percent reported not being hired for being transgender.
According to the Texas Association of School Boards, transgender students in Texas public schools are "entitled to be free from discrimination based on their gender identity and their free speech expression of that gender identity".
Transgender people are more likely to be abused by a partner than a cisgender person. According to the Williams Institute, between 30 and 50 percent of transgender people experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime.
Multiple layers of identities like race, gender and sexuality increase proximity to violence, according to the Denton County Friends of the Family, a domestic violence awareness and prevention organization.
In 2019, Texas led the nation in murders of transgender people. Transgender people of color experience have even shorter life expectancies than white transgender people due to these layers of identities.
The University of North Texas, located in Denton, has a large transgender community within its students and faculty.
"I think UNT has a pretty active trans community," said Florence Tyler, a nonbinary UNT student, "we see each other, we support each other."
"Something that helps with [the trans community] is obviously the Pride Alliance," they said, "they're having the second year of the Lavender Leaders retreat, I'm lucky enough to be a coordinator for that."
The Lavender Leaders retreat is a leadership retreat held by the UNT Pride Alliance.
The UNT Pride Alliance has existed within the university since 2013 to provide an on-campus office to "specialize in resources on gender and sexuality and a safe space for marginalized orientations, gender identities, intersex, and questioning students", according to their UNT website.
The Pride Alliance provides services such as a clothing closet for transgender students looking for new clothes, free gender-affirming haircuts, and training for people want to be educated on LGBTQ+ issues.
Other transgender UNT students have other kinds of experiences on campus.
"There's one professor that I had before transitioning and after transitioning," says Claire*, another transgender student at UNT who wished to use a different name, "when I came to his class after transitioning, he didn't bat an eye."
"I'm currently going to be talking to one of the attorneys here to work through my name and gender marker change," she said, "I think it depends on what you consider support but I think that I'm pretty fine."
The transgender community of Denton as a whole is a relevant topic in regards to the 2020 Sheriff's election.
In 2016, Sheriff Tracy Murphree, then-candidate for Sheriff, made a post on Facebook in response to the big-box store chain Target stating that transgender people were free to use the in-store bathroom that corresponded to their gender identity.
"This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. All I can say is this. If my little girl is in a public women's restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify goes into that bathroom. He will then identify as John Doe until he wakes up in what ever hospital he may be taken to. You identify does not trump my little girls safety," Murphree said.
Murphree later apologized for these comments.
"I understand how they interpreted it, I understand how they saw it, I understand their anger. For that, I apologize," said Murphree to the Dallas-Forth Worth branch of CBS.
Now, Sheriff Murphree is running for reelection against write-in candidate Freyja Odinsdottir, a transgender woman who is a former employee of his, as well as a former Marine and current adult entertainment actor.
Sheriff Murphree is running for reelection on the foundation of continuing his current work to expand the county's law enforcement presence and revitalizing interest in enrolling in law enforcement.
Freyja Odinsdottir is running for election to reform local law enforcement and to decriminalize sex work and minor drug offenses, as well as focusing on issues affecting the homeless.
Early voting in Texas begins October 14, and Election Day is November 3.