Monday, May 05, 2014

I Find That HERO Bathroom Language Disturbing

We have had 15 drafts, a standing room only contentious Quality of Life committee hearing which was several hours of attacks on the trans community and an upcoming session before the full city council tomorrow.  

But they still haven't fixed in the HERO that problematic bathroom language in Article IV, Section 17-51 

Sec. 17-51. Prohibition against discrimination in public accommodations.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any place of public accommodation or any employee or agent thereof to discriminate against any person on the basis of any protected characteristic, except as required by federal or state law or court order.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any place of public accommodation or any employee or agent thereof to deny any person entry to any restroom, shower room, or similar facility if that facility is consistent with and appropriate to that person’s expression of gender identity. It shall be a defense to prosecution for discrimination on the basis of gender identity under this article, however, if the defendant had a good faith belief that the gender or gender identity of the person discriminated against was not consistent with the gender designation of the facility. For purposes of this section, a defendant has a good faith belief if the manner in which the person represented or expressed gender to others (e.g. behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms) is not consistent with the gender designation of the facility the person attempted to access. Nothing in this section shall require construction of a new bathroom, shower room, or similar facility.

(c) It shall be a defense to prosecution for discrimination on the basis of disability under this article that the alleged discrimination resulted from a condition or structural feature for which a variance had been received. It shall also be a defense to prosecution for discrimination on the basis of accessibility that the place of public accommodation is in compliance with applicable state or federal law relating to accessibility.

Photo: Houston remains the only major city in Texas without an Equal Rights Ordinance safeguarding citizens from discrimination. Last week, Mayor Annise Parker took a step toward changing that. 

But we’ve got some work to do, and that’s where you come in:, if this is allowed to stand, it would allow gender policing to happen and the trans community in Tyjanae Moore type situations would have no recourse or way to punish people for harassing us.

Not no but HELL NO on this. That language in Section 17-51 (b) needs to go. 

The Dallas ordinance passed in 2002 doesn't have any bathroom language and as of this writing 12 years later hasn't had any increase in bathroom predators dressed in drag.    
Once again I have to call out the fact to Mayor Parker and Councilmember Ellen Cohen that the bathroom language in this HERO sucks and they need to forcefully tell the Pastor's Council where to go with their bathroom predator lies.

Just a gentle reminder to Mayor Parker that members of the Houston trans community were the foot soldiers and worker bees for many of your citywide campaigns for council, controller and mayor. We honored you with an Apogee Award at the 1998 Houston TG Unity Banquet for your leadership as a city council member on the 1998 non-discrimination ordinance.

We had your back when you needed us.  Now that we trans Houstonians need you to lead again on our issues since we don't have one of our own trans people on council yet, you want someone else on council to offer an amendment? 

Mayor Parker, we trans Houstonians need you and Councilmember Cohen to be the drum majorettes for justice we thought we elected to those positions.   Lead from the front and kill the HERO Section 17-51 (b) bathroom language.

It says above the doors to the entrance to council chambers 'The People Are The City'.  Transgender Houstonians are part of the 2.2 million people who live here and make up our sprawling southeast Texas metropolis.   It's way past time the ordinances in the city we love protected us from anti-trans discrimination.  We're tired of being demonized and humiliated for using the bathroom and there is no justification for it.

I and my fellow trans Houstonians want the same first class human rights you demand for yourselves with no excuses, no obfuscations and no delays.  We've waited long enough for the HERO to pass.

But before it possibly does, that odious bathroom language in Section 17-51 (b) must go.

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