Thursday, April 17, 2014

UH Josephine Tittsworth Act Passes!

Photo: Equality for all: whether you want to be called Sarah or Sean. Let's support the Josephine Tittsworth Act and help improve the UH-system.Was on the University of Houston campus to watch a little history being made in the ultramodern UH SGA Senate chambers in the UC North as UH 51.001, the Josephine Tittsworth Act came to a final vote

The SGA meeting started at 7:30 PM with the TransGriot an overflow crowd anxiously watching the proceedings.

The Tittsworth Act sought to have The University of Houston follow its existing EEOC and non discrimination policy by allowing trans students to update their university identification with their preferred name, discerned gender and titles. .  
But this simple turned into a surprisingly contentious issues that plucked nerves on both sides of it.

The frats and sororities were the initial Tittsworth Act opposition, and there were reports the UH campus Republicans were also stirring the injustice pot as well.  The opposition initially went to the all too familiar play to the trans community and our allies of 'fear and trans smear' along with complaining about being called bigots during the debate.

Well opposition people, when you actively oppose a measure for a marginalized group by throwing long ago debunked trans bathroom and sexual predator myths as you did in last week's town hall (which I made my pissivity about that stunt clear), it's not a good look and puts you on the wrong side of the arc of the moral universe not only in my eyes as a trans person but in the court of public opinion.  .

I also noted that the UH frats and sororities 45 years ago were on the wrong side of history when they opposed the election of Lynn Eusan as UH's first Black homecoming queen, and sadly, they were repeating that history by attempting to oppress another on campus marginalized group.  

The opponents sought to delay the vote, claiming that the Tittsworth Act 'had been rushed', with many of the junior SGA senators complaining they 'hadn't had enough time' to present the issues to their constituency groups

SGA President Charles Haston and Tittsworth Act lead sponsors SGA Senators James Lee and Guillermo Lopez  were having none of that along with the senators who supported the bill .  

President Haston spoke eloquently during his time in favor of the bill to a standing ovation when he concluded his remarks.   He also wrote this op-ed concerning the Josephine Tittsworth Act.

The Senate will vote tonight on a bill that, unfortunately, a small group of students has voiced visceral opposition to. I'd like to make some things clear. 

I have had several conversations with CFSL (Center For Student Life)  and this bill literally has NO impact 
on fraternities or sororities.

A student said today that Greeks would be "discriminated" against if they chose not to admit a trans student to their organization. This bill is about protecting students who are actually discriminated against and the notion that we shouldn't protect those students because an organization is worried about bad PR is disgusting.

Over the last 237 years, 1,264,000 Marines, soldiers, and sailors have died to protect the freedom of all Americans, but especially the freedom of those the majority may disagree with. That includes everything from Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest military funerals, to women and minorities right to vote.

You don't have to agree with the personal choices of others, but as an institution we have an obligation to promote tolerance in order to ensure that all students can thrive at the University of Houston.


After handling the initial business items on the meeting agenda, the meeting turned to the issue the overflow crowd was waiting to see, the outcome of the Josephine Tittsworth Act.  

The initial plan was to allow three speakers from each side to speak for two minutes for or against the bill.   But after none of the peeps flapping their transphobic gums on social media stepped up to speak against it (surprise, surprise), an additional three speakers in favor of the Tittsworth Act filled that time.

The first and most moving speaker of the evening was Autumn Packard.  She is the mother of a trans child who urged the UH SGA to pass the bill so that her trans daughter, should she grow up and wish to attend UH someday could do so in safety.  Becca Keo-Meier spoke about the problems she encounters as a person who has androgynous appearance on campus and read a statement from her spouse Dr. Colt Keo-Meier.    After the rest of the affirmative speakers had their say (I was on standby),  the debate shifted to the SGA senators who would determine the fate of the bill.

Senator Pooja Magadi in response to an opposition senator who stated he was voting against the bill 'for his constituents', reminded the senators to a standing ovation that the trans students on the UH campus were also their constituents, too.

After some final questions and answers, the vote on the Josephine Tittsworth Act finally happened a little after 9:15 PM    The vote was 11 in favor, 4 opposed and 2 abstentions.

The Josephine Tittsworth Act now goes to the Faculty Senate and up the UH administrative ranks before it becomes university policy.  

Photo: Tonight the University of Houston Student Government passed the Josephine Tittsworth Act further protecting the privacy of transgender students. Well done to those student Senators who spoke out in favor of this bill and its benefits to students. We want to point out the tremendous leadership of James Lee in particular for his work in helping to carry this bill.But I'm so proud of my Coogs and the UH SGA for passing the Josephine Tittsworth Act.  Thanks to James Lee, Guillermo Lopez, Yesenia Chavez, President Charles Haston, the 11 SGA senators and all the people who were drum majors and drum majorettes for justice that got this done.  

It was a deeply appreciated step not only for the safety and security of UH trans students, but also resonated beyond the campus with alums and supporters of the University of Houston and the Houston TBLG community.

Tonight you proved that the justified pride in UH being one of the most diverse campuses in the nation isn't empty rhetoric as far as trans students were concerned.

Go Coogs!

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