Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker has expanded a 12-year-old city nondiscrimination policy to include protection of gender expression and identification.
The executive orders Mayor Parker signed in late March protect city employees from harassment or discrimination in hiring, promotion and contracting. The new wording joins race, creed, color, sex, national origin, age, and disability as categories protected from discrimination.
The move has angered members of the Houston Area Pastor Council, a local organization known for its opposition to LGBT equality.
“Forcing women, in particular, using city facilities to be subjected to cross-dressing men invading their privacy is beyond the pale and offensive to every standard of decency,” said Steve Riggle, HAPC committee member and senior pastor of Grace Community Church, in a statement to the press.
Responding to opponents of the measure who claim it allows men to legally enter women’s restrooms, putting women and children at risk, Cristan Williams, Transgender Foundation of America director, says, “That’s nonsense. It remains unlawful for men to go into women’s restrooms. This order stops the institutionalized practice of forcing transgender females, like myself, to go into restrooms where males are in a state of undress. This is simply a liability issue.
“Pretending that the city has made it legal for men to hang out in women’s restrooms is preposterous, disingenuous, and, well, nutty,” she says.