Bathroom Battles: Scaremongering Abounds About Transgender Public Restroom Usage
As of the time of this writing, HERO is the law of the land in Houston. No Unequal Rights dropped off 5,000 pages of signatures for a petition, hoping to have the ordinance placed on the ballot this November instead of seeing it become law through a vote by City Council. According to the city charter, the group needed a minimum of 17,269 valid signatures -- 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election -- to get such an initiative on the ballot.
The final tally fell short by 2,000 once signatures like non-registered Houston voters and people who did not sign the petition themselves were eliminated.
"I fully expect the petitioners will want to fight this decision at the courthouse," Parker said in a press conference. "I am confident the courts will agree that the rules set out in our charter and state law to protect the integrity of the process should be followed and that the results of our review will be upheld. The judicial review will provide additional assurance to the voters that the process has been fair."
Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council, who helped lead the repeal effort, has vowed to take the issue to court. He framed his comments regarding the issue not in terms of fear over where transgender people can go to the bathroom but as simply a matter of voters' rights.
When asked if HPD had seen any increase in assaults by transgender men since the passage of the ordinance, Silva stated that the department had not, nor was it planning any sort of action in anticipation of such an increase.
"Mostly you see things like people taking cameras and such into bathrooms to film people," she said. "Sometimes they dress as women. That sort of thing happens, and it's still against the law."
Alexis Hollada still runs into problems herself. She makes it a point to keep her Facebook page very open as a way to engage metal fans who may be transphobic in hopes of educating people on the issue. As a transwoman in a very masculine music genre and a figure of some fame since she had a day declared in her honor by Mayor Parker last year, she sometimes serves as a lightning rod for the scared and angry.
She recalls an online conversation with a woman appalled that Hollada might be in a bathroom with the woman's daughter. Hollada assured her that she had no interest in molesting the woman's daughter.
"Who said anything about molesting," replied the woman. "I just don't want a penis in there. I think it's wrong."