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‘Cross-Dressing’ Ordinance Repealed 30 Years Ago

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This month, Houston’s LGBT community is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the repeal of the Houston’s cross-dressing ordinance.

Repealed August 12, 1980, Section 28-42.4 of the City’s Code of Ordinances prohibited “a person from appearing in public dressed with the intent to disguise his or her sex as that of the opposite sex.” The ordinance allowed police to enter women’s bars, like L’Amour La Femme and Just Marion and Lynn’s, and arrest women wearing fly-front jeans.

“This was a significant win for me personally—since I was living it out each day with the possibility of being arrested—as it was for other transitioning TGs who had to dress that way for two years prior to their surgery,” said attorney Phyllis Frye, who spearheaded the ordinance’s repeal.

“Thirty years ago, lesbians stopped being arrested in bars for wearing fly-front pants, and men stopped being arrested in bars if they moved from the stage to the patron area while still in their drag costume,” Frye recalled.

Frye expressed that she would like to read about the experiences of “the old lesbians and gay men who remember those days of being arrested in the bars for illegally ‘cross-dressing.’”

“I hope readers [will send in their letters to OutSmart for possible publication],” Frye said. —Nancy Ford

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