My Montrose: Lou Weaver, 2017 Pride Parade Grand Marshal
Lou Weaver is the statewide Transgender Programs Coordinator for Equality Texas, and a Grand Marshal of the 2017 Pride Parade.
Congratulations on being named a grand marshal!
Thanks. I think it’s a wonderful thing for the trans men in our community to see someone like me as a grand marshal. It was the second time I got far enough to be voted on, and it’s just so nice to be recognized by my peers in Houston for the work that I do. We’ve had trans women as grand marshals before, but never a guy. So it’s good to have that recognition.
Do you think trans men are becoming more accepted in the gay community?
That’s a very complicated question. It has a lot to do with visibility. Trans men have long been invisible, simply because we have a tendency to blend into society a little bit differently than transgender women. We haven’t been seen in multiple ways.
What does your job as Transgender Programs Coordinator entail?
I’m the first-ever person to hold the position. What I do is travel the state to find people who are willing to share their story, and then provide them the resources to do that. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I love doing it.
What are some of the biggest issues facing the transgender community right now?
First and foremost is the problem of getting documents. It’s hard to navigate the state if we don’t have documents. We have to get the correct name and gender marker on our driver’s license, and it’s hard to accomplish that in the state of Texas. Also, healthcare is a big deal for trans folks. Most doctors don’t know how to treat trans people because they aren’t taught that in medical school. Another issue is accessing the school system. We know in the upcoming special session of the legislature, they’ll be debating a law (SB6) forcing people to use the bathroom [designated for the gender] on their birth certificate. That makes it difficult for trans kids to go to school.
I know you worked on the HERO campaign here in Houston. Has it been discouraging to see how much pushback there has been, or did you expect that?
We expected that. What’s most discouraging is when I was testifying about SB 6, and there was a gay cisgender man sitting there saying that the legislation was not discriminatory. When we have members of our own community who aren’t standing up for trans people, that’s discouraging. For one, they don’t know our history. We’re all one community. We’re stronger when we’re together. The issue is the same—transphobia and homophobia are the same. Homophobia is also transphobia. I was an out lesbian for many years before I came out as a trans man, and we’re all one.
One of the things you do is advise companies like Chevron, Dow, and Shell on how to deal with trans people in the workplace. What are some of the most common questions you get?
Usually their first questions are, “Is this going to happen? What are my other employees going to think? And how do I make sure everything’s okay?” It is a complicated thing. They might have someone who has already transitioned, but they don’t know about it. People tend to think about the majority, not the minority, so not many people are thinking about how to make the trans person feel okay.
Even though the Pride Parade is now held downtown, most of the events during Pride Week will be based in Montrose. How important is the neighborhood to the gay community in 2017?
I’m not a native Houstonian, but I’ve been here for 15 years. There’s a sense that this is a place for everybody. Gay bars, gay clubs are so important to us as a place to feel loved and accepted—that I can stand there holding a boy’s hand and not have anyone give me a dirty look. It’s important for the queer, gay, trans folks to have Montrose.