Houston, where I live, is making national headlines due to the rather ugly battle here over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (or HERO). The fear mongering, particularly against trans people, is off the scales. People are certain that passing HERO will invite sexual predators into the women's restrooms, i.e., cis-men who will pretend to be transwomen to prey on women and girls. While I am aware of a few incidents of cis-men entering women's restrooms with evil on their mind, none of them pretended to be women to do so. And you know what? Either way, being a sexual predator is illegal whether you're wearing a dress or blue jeans, whether you're trans, cis, or intersex.
So, having gotten that out of the way (and it feels weird that one has to say such things) . . .
This evening, I went to a Houston Unites
meeting, focusing on the faith community. A friend had contacted me
about it (I hadn't heard of it) and asked me to join her, so I did.
early voting (now in progress here in Texas) indicates that the vote on
HERO is going to be close, that the fear mongering is working to
motivate the anti-HERO folk to go to the polls.
So many things collided in my brain during this meeting and I'll probably have to say more in another blog post.
But tonight I want to refer back to a post I wrote over a year ago, "Loving Those We Don't Understand." It relates my first encounter of any depth with a transwoman.
I want implore everyone who sees this and is pro-HERO to engage other
Houstonians about the ordinance. Facts and statistics are great, but
those aren't going to change hearts and minds alone. Tell stories, like I
told in the above-referenced blog post. Tell about your friendship with
a trans person, about your first encounter with one, or the first time
you deeply understood how Black people are discriminated against, or
about that time you saw a religious person or group denied housing and
how HERO would have helped them, or how people with a disability don't
always have equal access despite the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The ordinance has spread the net very wide in naming who it protects.
It's not just about any one group getting protection.
And when I
say engage, do it however you can. In person is usually best for full
communication, phone calls are great, emails and social media are not
useless. Heck, share this blog post or one of the many more articulate
ones out there. Just don't be silent, particularly in the face of people
who are uncertain. Help them understand that they might need HERO one
day, how it might help them settle a discriminatory incident locally
without having to take it to a federal court (because Texas courts won't
be much help for some categories---LGBT folk are not a protected class
under Texas law and you can be fired from a job just because you're gay,
but HERO would give at least Houstonians some recourse in that
And of course, fellow Houstonians, get out and vote
and vote Yes on Prop One. If you're like me, you might look at your
Facebook newsfeed and see a lot of support for it, because that's the
sort of friends you have. Don't let that lull you into complacency. Prop
One will only pass if you vote, and if you help get other people to the
polls to vote Yes on One.