When Texas introduced its own transgender bathroom bill earlier this year, a Texas father decided to show legislators just how much anti-trans laws would affect real people.
Ken Ballard, whose 14-year-old son is transgender, came to Texas's 85th Legislative Session to testify with a moving speech advocating for his son's rights.
His son, Ashur, he said, has attempted suicide twice while coming to terms with his identity.
"The thing is, I’ve only known I had a son for the past two years," he said. "Twelve years prior to that I kept calling him my daughter. [...] So for twelve years he played that role, until he no longer could. Right up until the letter I found in his room telling me that he had tried to commit suicide."
Ballard went on to explain that the reality of the situation forced him to understand what truly matters when it comes to raising his son.
"Was I going to be his bully?" he said. "Would I push parental instinct and the idea of holding on to a daughter, or only end up losing that child altogether?"
In the end, he said, he knew that what was important to him was that "I have a relationship with my son, and I’m not mourning at a headstone."
All he asks now is that his lawmakers show his son and other transgender people the respect they deserve.
"These are times when we’re trying to tell women what to do with their bodies again; I thought we finished this argument," he said. "These are times when they want to take away the progress made on benefits to spouses. And these are times when they want to tell my kid what bathroom he can go to."
"And I have to finish with the immortal words of the Foo Fighters: 'It’s times like this you give and give again. It’s times like this you love and love again.'"
Read these stories next: