Monica Roberts

The Best Little Trans Bathroom Controversy In Texas

Filed By Monica Roberts | November 24, 2010 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: African-American, bathroom issues, Houston, justice, legal, Monica Roberts, Texas, trans POC

Projectors, time to do a post with a twist.

best Little Ho house iin TX poster.jpgIt's now blown up into a kerfluffle that involves local hater Dave Welch and his right wing "Christian" minions, Mayor Annise Parker, a transphobic TV reporter, our local Fox Noise outlet and local LGBT activists.

Hmm, maybe I should be writing this as a Broadway play.... But back to the story.

26 year old Tyjanae Moore had no intention on doing anything but minding her own business as she visited the downtown Houston Public Library branch on November 17. At some point during her visit she had to use the restroom, and that's where the fun starts.

A transphobic female security guard observes her entering the bathroom, and then gets a Houston po-po involved by stating "there's a 'man' in the women's restroom."

Meanwhile Tyjanae is handling her business and as she exits the facility is confronted by the not-so-dynamic duo of the transphobic female guard and the Houston cop. The HPD officer cites a law the GOP controlled Texas Lege passed which makes it unlawful for any person to use a restroom of the opposite sex unless given permission by the building owner before arresting her.

No Trannies bathroom.jpgMoore pled guilty to the charge (which she shouldn't have) and was sentenced to the two days in jail she'd already served. She moved to Houston a year ago from Minnesota to be near her family, but after getting harassed for the second time over bathroom issues in the year she's been living in H-town she stated in an interview with Fox 26's Isiah Carey she's moving back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

However, we have a 1990 case that happened in which a similar ordinance was on the books here in Houston. Cis woman Denise Wells, tired of waiting in the ultra long women's bathroom lines in the Summit during a July 7 George Strait concert bounced into the men's room to pee.

A po-po was in the restroom at the time and Wells was arrested. She sued the city and won. In the process she established a legal precedent that as long as you aren't deliberately causing a disturbance, using the bathroom of the opposite gender is fine.

It also resulted in the Houston City Council passing in 1993 a potty parity ordinance and the Texas legislature passing a similar law that required double the ratio of women's to men's restrooms in new or renovated sporting facilities, convention halls and public venues.

Houston_David Welch.jpgOn top of that, we not only have the fact the library building is owned by the City of Houston, we have the March 2010 executive orders (1-8 and 1-20) issued by Mayor Annise Parker that expanded anti-discrimination protections for trans city employees and gives permission for transpeople to use the facilities in all city owned buildings.

The local Reichers, led by conservabigot in chief Dave Welch are already in trans hatemonger mode. They are demanding that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) get involved and issue a legal opinion.

Mayor Parker isn't backing down one millimeter either.

Our local Fox Noise affiliate KRIV-TV is stirring the controversy pot even more with a jacked up poll question.

Q: Would you be bothered by a transgendered person being in a public restroom with you?

No, but I'm bothered by this poll question.

KRIV-TV also tried to set up a debate on the issue between Dave Welch and Transgender Foundation of America executive director Cristan Williams, who pwned him the last time they tangled on Fox 26.

He ran away faster than Usain Bolt from that matchup and eventually ended up facing off against Araguz attorney Darrell Steidley.

We also have transphobic reporting by KTRK-TV's Miya Shay to mix into this drama stew as well in which she misgendered and used Tyjanae's old male name in her ABC13 piece.

Houston Mayor Parker.jpgSince the Reichers are already pissed off (pardon the pun) about Phyllis Frye's appointment as an associate municipal judge by Mayor Parker, stay tuned to see if they will be causing mischief and mayhem for Texas transkind starting in January 2011.

The Texas TBLG community after those disastrous 2010 midterms is staring at a Lege that has a 99-51 GOP advantage in the House, an 18-12 GOP margin in the Senate and Governor Goodhair, aka Rick Perry sitting in the currently being renovated governor's mansion.

In addition our Lone Star conservahaters are gleefully lining up to file every piece of hate legislation they can dream up or copy from Arizona in addition to chomping at the bit to merrily reapportion state legislative and congressional districts to favor Republicans until 2020.

And the worst part is that we'll have to sweat out a legislative session that we pray only lasts until Memorial Day.

So don't surf from that Bilerico dial. Moni won't be sleeping on this issue, and she'll be bringing you more exciting updates as this case develops.

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This is why I was terrified to go through my birth state (Texas) when I was driving truck (Over the Road). If I couldn't find a "family" bathroom I used the trash can in my truck.

Thanks, Monica, for raising awareness of this injustice. I wrote to Henry Florsheim, General Manager KTRK-TV, channel 13, Houston, about maligning and disrespectful treatment of Ms. Moore in their report of this story:

"Ms. Moore... was not only denied the basic human dignity of access to public facilities offered to all other women, she was denied dignity by KTRK-TV. In her report, [correspondent] Miya Shay maligned Ms. Moore with only male pronouns and only referred to her birth name... She sensationalized the injustice against Ms. Moore at the victim's expense. Shay not only crossed boundaries of common courtesy that she would not transgress with other minorities, she violated contemporary standards of journalism... Humiliating and degrading human beings in your city, because they may have been born differently than your staff, reflects poorly on your professionalism and credibility as journalists."

Note that Ms Moore had already spent 48 hours in a male jail, under constant threat of rape or worse.

And that she had no Public Defender to give her legal advice - none was available.

It's not like Miya Shay didn't know. She's won an Emmy Award for her reporting.

Cristan Williams PERSONALLY called her to ensure she was aware of the AP Stylebook guidelines for reporting on trans persons BEFORE/b> the story went to press on ABC13.

@Zoe the Houston municipal and Harris County jails have GLBT wings thanks to the efforts of the late Dee McKellar in the 90's.

@mykelb Didn't used to be that way. Those of us who live here are fighting for the progressive soul of the state.

There are some places in so called GLBT friendly blue states that are just as hostile to GLBT peeps as you peeps castigate Texas for.

I seem to recall someone getting gay bashed in of all places the Stonewall Inn a month ago.

I have here it said they grow things bigger in Texas. Apparently that means they grow bigger jerks too. I know I have no interest in moving there.

The first article I saw on this subject was from the Dallas Voice, I believe. The headline said that a transgender man had been arrested for using the men's room, and they used male pronouns in the article. I was perplexed, to say the least. They included a clip from a local TV station (not the Fox one) with the article. When I watched it, it was clear that the subject of the story was a woman. They also included Cristan Williams statement below it which would have been a pretty decent clue.

Yet the newspaper gave this erroneous information. It's hard to imagine that they could have been that incompetent since they provided all the correct information with the article from other original sources. That's how I knew about it. All they had to do was watch the clip they provided.

So if it wasn't massive incompetence, the only other explanation I can think of is transphobia. Either way, it was infuriating. They did correct it the next day without acknowledging the error.

I can't believe a GLBT community newspaper can't sort out a transperson's gender. It's appalling.

My experience has been that the self-styled "GLBT media" is consistently more transphobic than the mainstream media.

The Dallas Voice has had problems at times in getting it through their heads that a 'transgender man' is an FTM and a 'transgender woman' is an MTF

I see this mistake so often it's automatic for me to think the opposite of what I read in these MSM and LGBT media stories.