Trans rights are human rights and it’s the #1 reason this film critic isn’t attending or covering this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Transgender rights. Right to vote. Women’s rights. Education. You call him and he’s attacked by right-wing fascist Republicans in Texas. It is for this reason that I want nothing to do with supporting the economy of the state of Texas. I love SXSW and the city of Austin but no, I can’t in good conscience set foot in Texas. I also don’t feel comfortable covering the festival virtually. I first covered SXSW in 2018 and returned in 2019. I was ready for my highest grossing SXSW in 2020 before the pandemic forced SXSW organizers to cancel. It’s traditionally the festival where I make the most money doing interviews. By not participating, I risk losing a lot of money by leaving it on the table.

Where are things now? Republicans force women to give birth. If the child ends up being transgender, it’s “child abuse” when the parents are assertive enough to let them transition. Republicans are not pro-life. If they were truly pro-life, they wouldn’t attack an already marginalized transgender community. You know, the community with the highest suicide rates because of constant rejection. We’re so close to turning Texas blue, but it’s discriminatory laws like this that end up forcing voters out of Texas.

I feel for the filmmakers. Trust me, I do. In all other circumstances, the new film by Jeff Baena, spin me aroundwould be at the top of my list of films to see in the field. I’m happy to cover these films as they pass through future film festivals or for their theatrical release. What I will in no way do is cover them during SXSW. But because of the rights attacked, I do not cover the festival at all. The irony is that the same politicians who say all lives matter are basically saying not all lives matter. It’s crap and they know it. You can not fucking tell me all lives matter while trying to legislate to eliminate the transgender community.

Danielle Solzman stands in front of the Texas State Capitol during SXSW 2018. Photo by Danielle Solzman

It’s not just Texas. Look at the shit that’s going on in Florida. You know who I was was the loudest about it? The Walt Disney Company. How can Disney say what it did after the whole Giana Carano fiasco and then shut up as LGBTQ lives are under attack? In a perfect world, I’d set foot in Walt Disney World for the current 50th anniversary. However, that will not happen. Not until transgender discrimination is legalized by law. Full Disclaimer: I say this as someone who currently owns a single Disney stock – it would have been more, but I had to continually sell stocks after I got out just to pay the bills. I don’t recommend losing your job by coming out as transgender.

Even though I’m not attending SXSW, I still receive a deluge of emails from SXSW, publicists and those attending the festival. It’s depressing every time I respond to a publicist and tell them why I don’t attend any movies or cover any movies. We are entering the third year of the pandemic and it has already been quite taxing on my mental health. Until the Netflix, Focus, and MGM events in Los Angeles and New York, I haven’t even left the city of Chicago. I barely left my neighborhood until after I was vaccinated. When I did some shopping at a kosher grocery store in Evanston, it was not by public transportation. My current social life is what few press screenings still take place, shul, and the few interview opportunities I can get.

If the current state of transgender rights isn’t bad enough, there is a rise in anti-Semitism across the world. Current levels are only continuing to rise in the United States. I don’t recommend being a double target because it just adds more stress and anxiety to an already terrible depression. I won’t even tweet that I’m in a movie theater before the fact and it’s for my own safety.

Trans rights are human rights. Stop telling me that all lives matter when you discriminate against mine. Doesn’t my life matter? I’ll wait.

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