In April, Houston Mayor Annise Parker introduced a bill that would ban discrimination against the LGBT community. On May 13, it was announced that the bill had been revised to remove explicit protections for transgender people.
According to Frontiers LA, a paragraph that read, “It shall be unlawful for any place of public accommodation or any employee or agent thereof to intentionally 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,” was deleted.
The Houston Business Journal reported that conservative groups had “taken issue” with the paragraph in question. Parker removed it to reduce the possibility that the entire bill would be derailed, in what she called a “compromise.” She denied that the bill no longer provided protections for transgender people, saying, “The base ordinance is still the same.”
The legal community as a whole has been nonchalant about the paragraph’s removal. Employment law attorney Michael McCabe told the Journal, “Because it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their gender, gender identity is already covered” under current law. McCabe lives in Dallas, which has discrimination protections similar to what Parker proposed.
Regardless, the transgender community has made it clear that they remain concerned—and feel like their mayor just threw them under the proverbial bus. In response to a flood of protests from transgender activists, Parker posted on Twitter,
To my trans sisters/brothers: you’re still fully protected in Equal Rights Ordinance. We’re simply removing language that singled you out.-A
— Annise Parker (@AnniseParker) May 14, 2014
Few seem convinced. As several users pointed out, her language alone shows a lack of understanding:
— Vivian (@VanguardVivian) May 14, 2014
More than one said simply, “Houston, we have a problem.”