Texas GOP’s Trans Panic: Beto & Sri

While the GOP in Texas has recently made it clear that they intend to persist in promoting the various lies that support transphobic “bathroom bills,” they’ve taken their anti-trans hysteria further by claiming that various cisgender Democrats running for office are perhaps transgender. Perhaps most well known is the specularly failed attempt to make a photo of Beto wearing a 90s-era grunge dress while in his punk band Foss a political issue. Self-described “deplorable” and “Tea Party Original” GOP candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, called Beto a “sweet young thing in [a] flowered dress.” Men in grunge dresses were made fashionable with superstars like Kurt Cobain wearing flowered dresses.


Joining Beto as a target of Texas GOP’s transphobia is Sri Preston Kulkarni, Democratic Congressional candidate for Texas 22, a congressional district currently held by the anti-trans crusaderPete Olson. In August, the Fort Bend GOP sent out a mass email titled, “Cross-Dressing Democrat Candidate – Wow.” To support their crossdressing claim, the email’s author noted that Kulkarni was a Burning Man enthusiast who “put on lots of make-up and dress like a woman.” The email included the following images:

The GOP email continues:

Folks, when you couple the destructive policies embraced by this candidate along with his bizarre behavior celebrating of a drug-fueled counter-culture, we have an individual who should never represent us AT ANY LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT.

Unfortunately, without your help, these people could actually win elected office!  That is why every Republican must be committed to voting and bringing out friends and family.  Here at the Fort Bend Republican Party we are working everyday [sic] to ensure victory, but we can always use your support of $10, $25, $50, or even $100 to keep our operations going full steam.

Shortly after the Republican Party of Fort Bend County sent out the above email, the seat Sri is running for was downgraded from “Safe Republican” to only “Leans Republican.” While the TransAdvocate has reached out to the Republican Party of Fort Bend County several times for comment regarding their statements about Sri’s Burning Man attire, they’ve failed to respond.


Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.