A Texas drag performer was escorted out of a public hearing on one of the state’s anti-drag bills.
As NBC affiliate KXAN reports, the Texas House of Representatives State Affairs committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss S.B. 12, which was passed by the state senate last month. It’s aimed at banning minors from “sexually oriented performance,” which the bill initially defined as a “male performer exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male.” If the bill becomes law, drag performers could face a criminal misdemeanor charge if they perform in front of children or on public property, and venues that host drag performances could face penalties up to $10,000.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the committee was considering removing any mention of drag from S.B. 12.
Austin drag performer Brigitte Bandit was one of nearly 400 people who signed up to testify, the overwhelming majority of them opposing the bill, according to KXAN. Bandit appeared before the committee in a dress bearing the names of the victims of the Uvalde and Allen mass shootings to argue that the real danger facing the state’s children is gun violence, not drag queens.
“This legislature has spent more time targeting queer people than gun violence, even following yet another mass shooting in our state,” she tweeted on Wednesday.
After reportedly speaking 15 seconds over her allotted time, Bandit was escorted out of the hearing by security.
“I said what needed to be said,” Bandit wrote in a Thursday Instagram post. “Decorum be damned while our children are dying.”
Bandit—who was assigned female at birth, identifies as nonbinary, and uses she/they pronouns—has been outspoken in her opposition to S.B. 12 and another related bill, S.B. 1601. Her testimony before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs back in March, in which she argued that the legislation discriminated on the basis of sex, went viral.
“Why should I be able to continue the same kind of events with similar content and costumes but not my male counterparts?” she asked.
Noting that there are already laws preventing children from attending adult-oriented shows at venues like gay bars, she argued that bill wrongly focused on the sex and gender of performers rather than the content of their performances.
“Drag is simply a form of art, and like any form of art, it can be produced by many different kinds of people and be modified for different kinds of audiences,” she said.