Upon first glance, there's nothing out of the ordinary about activist Ashley Smith's photo with Texas governor Greg Abbott — and that's the point.
On Saturday, Smith, a transgender woman, posted a photo of herself with Abbott on Facebook, labeling it #bathroombuddy, and writing, "How will the Potty Police know I'm transgender if the Governor doesn't?"
Her caption, of course, is in reference to the "bathroom bill" that has made its way through the state, one that would prevent transgender students from using a bathroom that aligns with their gender.
Smith told The Houston Chronicle that she waited around after Abbott's speech in San Antonio, where he announced plans for a second term, to ask him to take a photo with her.
Smith told the Chronicle that she chose the photo as a form of protest because she didn't think "shouting" would work, and she was more interested in "getting the photograph and not getting thrown out."
"Once I had the photo, I was eager to get on social media just because I wanted to make a point," she told the Chronicle. "We're about 1-in-300 people, we're all over the place, we're your friends and your neighbors. Some of us are not immediately obvious as trans. And the idea that you are going to be able to enforce a bathroom bill, I mean the enforceability is just not there."
Since she posted it on Saturday, the photo has had over 1,000 shares and likes at the time of writing.
Smith tells Refinery29 that she follows state and local politics, and I follow when she saw that the governor would be making an appearance in San Antonio, "I thought that maybe I could have an opportunity to make a point and also make a few folks laugh."
"I had no idea it would be so popular," she adds. "I had some friends who were openly protesting but I felt that getting a picture would make a bigger impression and hopefully change some opinions on this subject."
Overall, she hopes that her photo sends a message for transgender rights.
"I hope the photo I took with the governor illustrates the ridiculousness of passing a bathroom bill and lets more people see that transgender folks are just ordinary people who live and work among everyone else in our community," she says "The state legislature should focus their attention on issues that matter to Texans, such as lowering our property taxes and fixing school finance."
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