Transgender woman takes photo with Texas gov. ahead of bathroom bill debate

Posted at 6:57 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 19:09:44-04

A photo of Ashley Smith, a transgender woman and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has gone viral. Smith says she took photo to show “sometimes it’s not really apparent who transgender people are.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is at the center of controversy over a bill that regulates bathroom use for transgender people, posed alongside a woman from San Antonio.

A day later, the woman, Ashley Smith, shared the photo on social media.

“How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the Governor doesn’t,” longtime San Antonio resident Smith captioned the photo, which has the hashtag #BATHROOMBUDDY.

The photo has garnered nearly 5,000 likes, with many praising Smith for her move.

Smith, who is transgender, said she took the photo to prove transgender people “don’t pose a threat” to others.

‘I’m really encouraged’

Smith took the photo on Friday after Abbott held a rally in San Antonio to announce his re-election bid. She said she attended the rally to listen to his speech, have a chat with him and snap a picture.

Smith said the photo shows that “sometimes it’s not really apparent who transgender people are.”

“We’re just regular folks,” she added.

Smith feels encouraged by people’s positive comments, saying most Texans are interested in other issues and “don’t care where I use the bathroom.”

CNN reached out to Abbott’s office for comment but has not received a response.

Controversy over bathroom bill

The Texas Legislature debated the so-called bathroom bill during its last session. Senate Bill 6 would require public high school students to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The bill was stalled after the contentious legislative session came to an end in May. Abbott weighed in on the issue in April, tweeting that he supports “the principles of both the Senate & House to protect privacy in bathrooms. We will work to get a bill to my desk.”

The Republican governor called for a special 30-day session in which the debate over the bathroom bill is expected to continue.

The potential legislation has members of Abbott’s party divided. Moderate voices say Texas will face the same backlash North Carolina did last year when it passed a similar but broader bill. North Carolina lawmakers repealed the bill in March after numerous business groups, athletic organizations and entertainers condemned it.

Major corporations have publicly opposed the Texas bill. Tech giant IBM ran a full-page ad in local publications that said the company “opposes any measure that would harm the state’s LGBT+ community and make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented Texans.”

Supporters, like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, say the bill protects the privacy of women and children.

Smith said a bathroom bill would put already vulnerable transgender people “at significant risk.”

“I think it would be a disaster,” Smith said. “Transgender people have faced harassment just for being who they are.”