Trending Tuesday: HERO Act
Last week Houston voters repealed the HERO prop. 1 ordinance that was pushing forward to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Now you might be thinking-- why would anyone not agree with a non-discrimination law?
Well firstly it can be marginally chalked up to the fact that this happened in the conservative south, but even so much of the blame can be put on the way this ordinance was being spun by politicians. The ads running against HERO were misconstruing this law as something that would allow men into women's bathrooms to prey on young girls. (Watch this link at your own risk, it's very transphobic).
Unfortunately many people are very ignorant and don't realize that transwomen are not men, and transmen are not women... and most importantly: THEY JUST WANT TO PEE IN PEACE.
It's much more likely that a trans person is going to be harassed in a public restroom than they are likely to harass you or your children:
According to a 2013 study by the Williams Institute (a UCLA group that studies LGBTQ issues) 70% of transgender or gender non-conforming respondents in Washington DC reported being denied access, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted in a public restroom.
Also it should be noted that often it is the conservative politicians who oppose these discrimination laws saying things like "well I'd pretend to identify as a woman if it meant I could go into women's bathrooms!"
This proposition was already in place, this voting successfully repealed this protection for LGBTQ people in all places, not just bathrooms, though that was the sole focus of the anti-HERO ads.
Additionally, this bill wasn't LGBTQ specific: Called HERO for short, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance did not directly address bathrooms. It banned discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and 10 other characteristics. HERO covered jobs, housing, and places of public accommodations-- including public restrooms. As such transgender women could not be barred from women's restrooms under the law.
From personal experience I have been harassed in public restrooms in Texas and outside of Texas. Though surprisingly I was always confronted when I used the women's bathroom as a transman who presents very masculinely. Men do not look twice at me when I use my restroom or preference, and I can say the same thing probably applies for when transwomen get to use the women's room. To give you an idea of what it would look like if we barred trans people from using the correct restrooms here's an interesting piece about a man who is protesting these types of laws by taking selfies of himself in the women's restroom:
This has sparked a movement using the hashtags #occupotty and #wejustneedtopee, of other trans people posting selfies in the bathrooms they are forced to use according to their specific state/city ordinances.
The moral of the story is that a lot of people are not educated about these issues and they will give in to scare-tactics and smear campaigns because they do not know any better (though some people are also transphobic and bigoted). So whenever you have the chance speak up for the rights of others and try to help educate the ignorant. Go out and vote when local ordinances are up for approval or repeal, make your voice heard and it will make a difference in the lives of many whose voices are often silenced.
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