Activist forcibly removed from Texas statehouse, banned for 1 year for displaying banner in support of trans kids

A prominent transgender advocate in Texas said she was forcibly removed — and subsequently banned for a year — from the state Capitol after displaying a banner in support of trans kids during a protest on Tuesday.

Sofia Sepulveda was protesting against SB 14, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

House lawmakers are set to start debating the legislation on Tuesday. Several pieces of legislation, including a trans sports ban and a ban on discussing LGBTQ issues in classrooms, are currently being considered by the state legislature. According to Equality Texas, there are more than 140 bills that would codify discrimination against LGBTQ Texans.

Sepulveda was one of hundreds of young transgender Texans, their families and supporters who showed up at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to make their voices heard.

Carrying flags and signs with messages including “Trans kids belong” and “Protect trans kids,” demonstrators started singing chants in support of transgender youth, the Texas Tribune reported.

Sepulveda, who works as the community engagement and advocacy manager for Equality Texas, said she was disciplined by Department of Public Safety officers after dropping a large banner that read “Let Trans Kids Grow Up” in the main rotunda during the protest.

In a statement shared with the Daily News, Sepulveda said she was being intimidated by state authorities — and she intends to keep fighting.

“I am a proud Texas resident, a Mexican-American, and a transgender woman, and I deserve to have my voice heard just like any other Texan invested in the policies shaping our lives,” said Sepulda, who’s also a board member of the Transgender Education Network of Texas. “This is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate me and members of other marginalized communities from speaking our truth. I know I have done nothing wrong and I refuse to be silenced.”

National LGBTQ rights leaders were quick to denounce the action of the Texas DPS.

Their reaction was “unbelievably harsh and an unacceptable assault on basic freedoms,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “No one should be threatened for sharing their values and viewpoints on the issues that most matter to them and their communities.”

SB 14 is one of more than 540 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country this year.