‘Trans lives are precious’: Billboard protests attacks on trans Texans with powerful message

LGBTQ2S+ healthcare organization FOLX puts a spotlight on trans rights in Texas

Drivers around downtown Austin, Texas, may have passed by a large, truck-mounted billboard this past week that reads “TRANS LIVES ARE PRECIOUS.” 

The billboard was set up by FOLX Health, a telehealth transition-related health care service that began operating last year. Displayed in glowing LED on a black background, the billboard circled the Texas Capitol throughout Trans Awareness Week in protest of anti-trans legislation pushed by state lawmakers. More than 70 bills targeting LGBTQ2S+ Texans were tabled in this year’s myriad legislative sessions.

“We need to go beyond awareness,” Rocco Kayiatos, chief creative officer of FOLX Health, tells Xtra. “Most people are ‘aware’ that trans people exist. We must take action and continue to fight for our trans family. We must protect trans youth.”

Among the barrage of threatening legislation LGBTQ2S+ Texans have been met with is House Bill 25, which passed three weeks ago. The bill requires trans student athletes attending public schools to participate in sports teams corresponding to the sex they were assigned at birth or else forgo participation altogether. After the bill stalled during the regular legislative session, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, called three additional sessions to force it through.

Other bills included proposals that would label parents of trans kids as “child abusers” if they sought out gender-affirming care for their children and block children from receiving life-saving treatments like puberty blockers.

This isn’t the first time FOLX has used a billboard campaign to advocate for trans rights. Earlier this year, the organization installed similar billboards in Atlanta, Georgia, and along a Florida highway used by former president Donald Trump’s motorcade. The latter was intended to “remind the former president, a man that was focused on dismantling the rights of transgender Americans, that our existence is valid and important and that we deserve to be seen, held, and cared for,” FOLX Health said at the time.

“We must take action and continue to fight for our trans family. We must protect trans youth.”

Several other U.S. cities, such as Detroit and Philadelphia, have recently welcomed pieces of public art in support of their trans residents. After legislation criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans youth was introduced in April, the Magic City Acceptance Center, a Birmingham-based LGBTQ2S+ youth centre, erected a billboard with the slogan #ProtectAlabamaTransKids. The display was the largest trans Pride flag in Alabama’s history.

They arrive at a critical moment for America’s trans community. A record number of more than 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced across the U.S. in 2021, and eight have enacted laws curtailing youth access to sports and affirming medical care.


Meanwhile, an estimated 47 transgender Americans have lost their lives to violence this year, the largest number ever recorded. The majority of victims were Black trans women.

Mail-service based programs like FOLX hope to provide resources to transgender people who need support and care during a difficult time. Along with hormone replacement therapy, FOLX offers PrEP, erectile dysfunction treatment, at-home STI tests and virtual consultation meetings with gender-affirming doctors. 

In February, FOLX raised $25 million in venture capital funding for the organization to help lower the cost barriers to their services for those for whom it would otherwise be financially prohibitive—a critical need given the high poverty rates in the trans community—and offer an HRT Care Fund. The fund supports hormone replacement therapy for people across the U.S. by underwriting a year of HRT, with 75 percent of grants dedicated to Black and Indigenous people and people of colour. 

As the community moves forward from Saturday’s Trans Day of Remembrance, Kayiatos says the need among trans people for safety and security requires the continued engagement of resource organizations, advocates and members of the general public.

“Every week of the year, we proclaim our ongoing love, adoration, support, solidarity and celebration of our trans community amid ongoing attacks from lawmakers,” he says.

Clarification: November 23, 2021 9:22 amThis story has been updated to clarify the nature of FOLX’s funding.

Sophie Hurwitz

Sophie Hurwitz is a St. Louis, Missouri-based journalist and editor who believes in the power of community storytelling.

Read More About:
Activism, Health, Power, News, United States, Trans

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