Bathroom Battles: Scaremongering Abounds About Transgender Public Restroom Usage

Categories: Cover Story

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In March 2013, Alexis Hollada, better known by her stage name, Doomstress Alexis, is on her way back from Austin with her drummer, Raymond Matthews, in tow. The pair have just rocked a gig during SXSW with their doom metal act, Project Armageddon, and now just want to get back to Houston after picking up a bite to eat at a diner on U.S. 290. There isn't much on the bass player and vocalist's mind aside from food and a chance to use the bathroom before the long drive home, and she's still high on the adrenaline from performing.

She and Matthews seat themselves and order coffee, which arrives a minute later while they look at their menus and wait for the server to take their order. And wait. And wait.

Time crawls along in the diner, which doesn't look particularly busy. Repeated attempts by the pair to make eye contact with or flag down a server are ignored. Even polite calls for help and service elicit either a dead stare or no response at all. Hollada finally realizes what's happening.

She is silently being told that as a transgender woman, she isn't welcome in the restaurant.

Photos from any Project Armageddon gig will show that Hollada is a woman-and-a-half in every direction. Though she and Matthews are dressed in plain, nondescript clothes for the road instead of their stage gear involving skintight leather and spikes, the outfit does little to hide either her height or large, somewhat masculine muscles that are the result of her heavy workload as a motorcycle mechanic during the day. She's buxom, and her face is pretty by any standard, but there's a cast to her bone structure that subtly tips off people that Hollada's birth gender is male despite her legal status as female.

Hollada started transitioning in 2008, and though she's become sort of accustomed to incidents like this, they still hurt.

"Now I find it almost amusing, but when I first began going out fully as a woman, I worried about my passability and my safety," she says. "If I was at a restaurant or something, I would always go to the restroom with a friend so that way I was safe. There would be less suspicion. Still, you were always worried that someone would create a fuss, raise a stink with security, or worse."

Though it was nothing new to Hollada, her drummer sat at the table dumbfounded by this open discrimination. Hollada's transgender status is no secret to the Houston metal scene.
"It wasn't a big place, and you start to feel everyone's eyes on you," says Hollada. "You learn to recognize it, feel the sidelong looks, but Raymond didn't really know that this sort of thing goes on for people like me."

Nearly an hour later, with drained cups and no food in sight, the pair quietly leave money for their coffee and walk out the door.

Things like the diner's hostile refusal of service to a transgender person aren't supposed to happen, and in Houston that is a fact of law beyond just sheer common courtesy. In May, Mayor Annise Parker signed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO. Passed after an 11-6 vote by City Council, the ordinance prohibits discrimination based on "sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy." Violation of the ordinance carries a fine of up to $5,000.

The law applies to city employers, housing, city contractors and private employers with more than 50 employees. Only 7 percent of businesses in the Houston area fall under that categorization, and many people feel that because of that fact, 50 is too high a threshold. Religious institutions are exempt.

Opposition to the bill, which includes a gender identity provision, comes mostly from the conservative and religious right, including former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Earlier drafts contained a paragraph mentioning specifically that businesses would not be allowed to refuse entry to any public restroom that was consistent with a person's gender identity.

Most of the opposition has been based on the notion that the ordinance made all bathrooms gender-neutral and that transsexual and transvestite men would now be able to easily and legally stalk women and female children in the stalls. Opponents call it the Sexual Predator Protection Act.


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15 comments
HatersWillLose
HatersWillLose

More hate from Houston's Kool Aid drinking Christian Taliban Preachers Association. All the mega church morons and Second Baptist Busy Bodies joined up with the hateful Hispanic holy rollers and the really shortsighted (we got our civil rights, *F you gays!) African American religious goon squad with all their fancy mail order titles like Bishop/ Apostle/ Preacher/Reverend/Dr, etc. to make up more lies and hate about the special people that their/our  GOD created.  - Gays, Lesbians, Transgender ed, etc. 


These crowd is embarrassing to our diverse community. They are hateful, homophobic, unchristian, and evil. They contribute to GLBT youth homelessness and suicide with their constant hatred.  They are the reason American kids are running from the Church (read the Pew Report, idiots) 


I think that God has a very special plan and place for them all. 

sexikelli.rlc
sexikelli.rlc

Most children who suffer from gender identity disorder do not grow up to be transgender but become homosexual and bisexual adolescents and adults instead", according to Olson.


I would like to see the actual data on this.  Gender Identity and Sexual Attraction are two entirely different subjects which she seems to tie together in one sentence.  Makes me question the validity of any conclusion she is making.


There are transgender women who are still attracted to women only.  Personally I do not know any transgender men attracted to men, but I am sure there are some.  Many become heterosexual in their new gender. To generalize that most children who do not go through with gender transition but have the Gender Identity disorder become homosexual or bisexual is incorrect and sets stereotypes that are hard to overcome.  Many still stay attracted to the opposite sex of their birth gender.  Where is this coming from?

emilydt
emilydt

So wait, was it the drummer or bass player she was with??

Schitt.C.Rumpney
Schitt.C.Rumpney

Here's what makes me laugh at these prejudiced "opposers":   they 'aint' scared to pull out the DAIRY UNITS right in the middle of a mall or shopping center or even a 'Targets',  imposing on OUR RIGHTS to not want to see their over-the-shoulder-boulders stretching while we are trying to enjoy a lunchbreak!



The laugh comes in when "they" claim 'their' rghts are imposed' just because theres a unisex bathroom!  These restrooms already exists!  If you dont like to use it,  then hold it long enuff to go to a different place!   This is a diverse world - get used to it!

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

I genuinely don't understand why anyone cares about this; it's not a big deal. Just mind your own business especially in the bathroom.

h_e_x
h_e_x

@HatersWillLose They think that by slapping on some skinny jeans, the kids will come back. Look at that young bigot featured in these pages recently, it was funny/pathetic how he tried to gussy up the old-school bigotry with a "cool" facade.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@emilydt She was with her drummer. She is the vocalist and bass player

_____
_____

@bdamages After reading the article, "hateful or abusive content" sounds about right.

h_e_x
h_e_x

@bdamages That Gavin guy is as skeezy as you can get. Started at vice and now does the rounds of red eye, the depressing late night show on fox news.

madmabel
madmabel

@gossamersixteen They use fear and ignorance because these are the only weapons they have.


What the citizens of Houston need to know is that laws similar to HERO have been in effect for many years in many places.  Minneapolis was the first, outlawing discrimination in 1975.  In all that time there have been NO instances of a man cross-dressing to invade the lady's room.


NONE.  If such were to ever occur existing laws making the things they predict have been sufficient for many years.


The effort to overturn HERO is just a way of trying to make prejudice law.

h_e_x
h_e_x

@JefWithOneF @bdamages No one is paid to provide the solipsistic, navel gazing content at though catalog. Seriously, they put out some of the worst crap on the internet, and I'm including 4chan on that list.

bdamages
bdamages

@h_e_x @bdamages Apparently he was an owner of Vice and was bought out for enough money that he doesn't give a damn,  More interesting to me is that we seem to have arrived at a place where any public discussion suggesting there's something seriously wrong about being "trans" makes one a pariah. 

h_e_x
h_e_x

@bdamages @h_e_x I think it's about time it happened. Vilifying transgender people is nothing new, and the fact that they are becoming more accepted is a wonderful sign of progress, because it means that more people are being treated with the dignity that every person deserves.

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