Anti-Transgender Petition Drive in Houston Fails

Posted By Melanie Nathan, April 08, 2015.

Michael Silverman Laverne CoxThe Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) responded to news that a Houston petition drive aimed at removing protections for transgender people in the city had failed. Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced late yesterday that the group spearheading the petition, Houstonians For Family Values, had failed to collect the 20,000 signatures needed to amend Houston’s city charter. The group was seeking amend the city charter to remove existing nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and in a 2012 Executive Order banning workplace discrimination against city workers.

The petition claimed to “protect women’s right to privacy” by prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that match who they are. In reality, the petition would have gutted Houston’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations, leaving them with no recourse if they were fired from a job, thrown out of their homes, or refused service just because of who they are. The proposed amendment would also have required any company doing business with Houston to leave transgender people similarly unprotected from discrimination.

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman

“We’re thrilled to see this onerous petition fail. The proposal was meant to remove all nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in Houston and leave them vulnerable to discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It used bathroom-panic scare tactics in an attempt to mask its true goal, which was to make it legal to fire transgender people, evict them from their homes, and deny them services in restaurants and other public places simply for being themselves. It was wrong and dangerous and we’re glad to see it stopped.”

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