April 7, 2015

TLDEF Condemns Petition Effort in Houston Aimed at Dismantling Transgender Protections

New York, NY - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) denounces a petition drive in Houston aimed at removing current protections for transgender people and banning future protections. The petition, spearheaded by Houstonians For Family Values, seeks to amend Houston’s 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 claims to “protect women’s right to privacy” by prohibiting transgender people from using bathrooms that match who they are. But its actual terms belie that claim. In reality, the petition would gut Houston’s nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations, leaving them with no recourse if they are fired from a job, thrown out of their homes, or refused service just because of who they are. The proposed amendment would also require any company doing business with Houston to leave transgender people similarly unprotected from discrimination.

The group claims it has enough signatures needed to put this proposal on the ballot and plans to submit them to the city this week.

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman

“This petition effort is meant to do one thing: remove all nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in Houston and leave them vulnerable to discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It uses bathroom-panic scare tactics in an attempt to disguise its true aim, which is to roll back the clock to a time when transgender people in Houston could be fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes, and refused service in restaurants and other public places simply for being who they are. It is wrong and it is dangerous. We call on all fair-minded Houston residents to speak out against this cruel proposal aimed at putting transgender people in harm’s way.

“This petition follows a disturbing pattern of proposed anti-transgender legislation in several states, including Texas, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, and Kentucky. Some bills seek to criminalize transgender people for using restrooms that match who they are, with violators facing jail time and hefty fines. Others target transgender students for discrimination in everyday activities like playing sports. All of these bills are outrageous and must be stopped.”