Bathroom Battles: Scaremongering Abounds About Transgender Public Restroom Usage

Categories: Cover Story

Photo by Ashli Hill
"Doomstress" Alexis Hollada of the metal band Project Armagreddon had a day named in her honor by Mayor Annise Parker in 2013.

In June, a coalition called No Unequal Rights started running radio ads (featuring "Nadia's Theme" from The Young and the Restless as background music) on Majic 102.1 FM KMJQ claiming that all over Houston, "from Macy's to McDonald's," young girls were being exposed to men in wigs with pubic hair sticking out from under their short skirts.

And an analysis by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a large Christian nonprofit, claimed that the ordinance "places women and girls at risk of voyeurism, assault, and worse." In its report, the organization cited nearly a dozen news stories involving men videotaping or exposing themselves to women and girls under the guise of being transgender and therefore free to do so under nondiscrimination laws.

Ultimately, the bathroom clause was removed from the final draft of HERO, a move applauded by the LGBT community as well because it also took out wording indicating that a business could refuse the use of a restroom if it felt someone's claim to be transgender was disingenuous.

"To my trans sisters/brothers: you're still fully protected in Equal Rights Ordinance. We're simply removing language that singled you out.-A" said the mayor in a tweet.

Still, a great deal of fear continues to dominate the debate as the far right claims danger lurks behind HERO's expansion of protections.

Such fear is a little strange because two of the largest areas of life in Houston, the Houston Independent School District and law enforcement under the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Office, have had similar protections for the trans community for years with great success and none of the vitriolic, bitter opposition shown to HERO.

Contrary to the remarks by Pastor Kendall Baker to City Council in May during the hearings, such protections do not appear to have caused the End Times as of yet.


In HISD there's an eight-year-old student we'll call Ada who was born biologically male but identifies as female. Her mother agreed to speak with us.

When Ada was five years old, she came to her mother in tears. "Mom," she said, "I think God made a mistake." Her mother asked what she meant, and Ada, still crying, said, "I don't feel right in this body. I don't think I'm supposed to be a boy."

Ada's been feminine her whole life. Her parents offered her both dolls and cars, but even when she was quite young, Ada always drifted toward princesses and tiaras. Her best friend was a girl, and Ada tried on every pink thing her friend owned.

Dr. Johanna Olson of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles is a leading national expert on transgender youth. In February 2011 she published a study on the subject in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. In it, she noted that cross-gender identification generally presents itself in early childhood, starting with children as young as five. 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.

However, Olson also notes that adults who do have the identity disorder report having had such feelings as children, feelings that persist into their mature lives. Not every little boy who begins dressing or acting like a little girl will one day fully identify as female, but those who do have done so since they were young.

Ada grew up in regular contact with the LGBT community and knew plenty of same-sex couples and transgender people. Until she came to her mother in tears, though, she really had no concept of what it really meant to transition or to identify with the gender other than the one a person was born with. To her, transgender people weren't a process; they were just friends of her parents -- girls and boys, however they introduced themselves.

"So we sat down and explained the whole thing in terms a little kid could understand," Ada's mother said.

The knowledge of what she was didn't end Ada's problems, even as HISD began making strides in protecting students like her. Afraid to cross-dress at school or otherwise assert her identity for fear of bullying or ridicule, she tried to content herself with dressing as a girl on Halloween.

The appropriateness of beginning the transition process in prepubescent children is controversial, not least because of the lack of adequate data on the subject since so few families with children who have gender identity disorder seek professional treatment, according to Olson. She recommends working with families, friends, teachers and administrators to create a safe environment for children to present in their preferred gender under the close watch of a mental care professional well-versed in the condition.

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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. 


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?


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


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 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.


@HatersWillLose  And you call them hateful?  Wow, your post was one of the most hateful I can recall.


@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 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.


@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.


@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.


@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.


@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. 


@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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