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Denton, TX protests Governor Abbott signing anti-trans legislation

By Jo Hargis

Texas protest against anti-trans legislation.

Denton, TX – On August 8, 200 people braved triple digit temperatures to protest Governor Greg Abbott’s visit to Texas Women’s University, located in Denton, Texas. The governor came to the campus for a ceremonial signing of SB 15, a bill banning trans athletes from participating in college sports teams aligned with their genders. Abbott had already officially signed SB 15 into law in June of 2023.

For over four hours, protesters lined the entrances to the university library. Chants rang out like, “Greg Abbott, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!” and “Go home Greg! Fix the grid! Keep your hands off our kids!” A tall banner reading “Let trans kids grow up” towered over the crowd. Chanters kept rhythm by beating on signs and clacking their hand fans. Cars entering and exiting the venue, flanked by police, were greeted by a crescendo of boos and jeers from the crowd.

A statement released by Texas Women’s University students declared, “Governor Abbott is leveraging our university's name and reputation in the ongoing culture war against the transgender community. We (the students) were neither consulted nor adequately informed about this ceremony, and we cannot stop it from happening, but we will not allow him to speak for all of us. Our university has a rich, thriving culture of trans and gender diverse students. We respect them as valued members of our community, and we strive to treat them with dignity and fairness.”

In attendance was Kamyon Conner, executive director of Texas Equal Access Fund, or TEA Fund. Per the organization's mission statement, TEA Fund provides funding to low-income people in the northern region of Texas who are seeking abortion and cannot afford it, while simultaneously working to end barriers to abortion access through community education and shifting the current culture toward reproductive justice.

“We are telling Greg Abbott to go the fuck home because he’s here masquerading that he’s supporting the expansion of anything to do with women’s issues, when really he is putting into law anti-trans bills that ban them from sports,” said Conner. “What I’m really seeing happen in our state and across the country is an attack on people’s ability to make decisions about their own lives and healthcare and bodies. There’s a huge attack on bodily autonomy, and it’s the same fight that we have with abortion and reproductive health access that trans and queer folks are having with our government as well.”

Sage, a transgender activist with Abundance Denton, came to the rally to protest discrimination. “In Abundance Denton, we believe in public transit and affordable housing for all, and that means everyone, and that means all aspects of life. People should be able to have housing and go to the restroom and play sports and have transit available. There’s a lot of things that are human rights and people should have but we don’t, and that’s why we’re out here fighting.”

The Dallas Morning News reported that the chanting outside the building was audible from inside the event. During a press conference after the ceremony, Abbott was asked how he’d respond to criticism that this law ignores real issues facing Texans while seeking to solve a condition that doesn’t exist on a large scale, given that no openly trans athletes have competed at the collegiate level in Texas and fewer than three dozen trans athletes have competed at the collegiate level nationally. Abbott laughed, but did not answer the question.

SB 15 will go into effect on September 1.