More Talk on Transgender People and Bathrooms as Council Pushes Back Vote
Discussions around the ordinance proposal called HERO have been so intense that you'd think they were giving out free passes to the Super Bowl the way people were crowding City Hall on Tuesday. Now that a final vote by city council has been pushed back yet again, more intense testimony is expected in two weeks.
Photo by Jeffrey Beall Voting on Houston's non-discrimination ordinance hung up on section about bathroom access.
While there's no shock in what the supporters of HERO want (equal treatment from city businesses and protections for various groups, particularly gays and transgender folks), the opposing side is still worried about the possibility that the public won't be able to handle transgender people having the right to choose their own restrooms, and a fear of pedophiles has become part of the argument.
Gender identity and bathroom use have become the biggest issue of the debate, so much so that a proposed amendment to the ordinance segment dealing with gender and bathroom use was tagged for more time to work on it. But that aspect of the debate is nothing new, since several municipalities and states across the country have engaged in similar dialogue about laws affecting the transgender community.
Non-discrimination legislation for transgender people became known as the "Bathroom Bill" in Maryland.
Michael Kubosh, a Houston at-large city councilman, was partially correct when he told the conservative website Breitbart Texas all this back-and-forth over gender and bathroom use was a waste of time. "With all the problems we have in city government, here we are laboring over who goes to the restroom." But he immediately stated exactly why this discussion was necessary in Houston. "What does worry me is showers were mentioned. If a person is transitioning and coming out, are they going to go into the women's shower with the women, even though they are genetically still a man? This is greatly confusing to the public, and you and I both know we just couldn't tolerate that."
You know, we wondered about that, too. So we consulted the female-to-male transitioning guide ftmguide.org. What we learned was that going through a gender switch is uncomfortable enough when you're dealing with the rest of society and public facilities are the final frontier.
According to the site:
Another matter to consider when making the switch to the men's locker room is personal safety. It is a good idea to try to assess the risks of being discovered as transsexual in the specific locker room your considering. In most health clubs and gyms, the men who are changing in the locker room are most likely focused on going about their business, and they will probably not notice or care very much if you are a transsexual. However, in some sports team locker room situations, as well as school locker situations, the pressure to fit certain social and gender norms can be heightened, and the possible retaliation to differences is greater. If you do not feel safe in any locker room setting, walk away from it, either temporarily until you feel it is safer, or permanently. You can always change or shower later or at home.