The Tragedy in Houston Last Night

I’ve seen some crap. Few things are as much of a travesty as how the #‎HERO‬ vote went in Houston. One of the worst I’ve ever seen.

Some from the campaign were saying “Let’s not engage in Monday-morning quarterbacking”. Yet how can you not when the vote was so lopsided? How can you not when the turnout for the Houston vote was the highest in a city election since 2003? How can you not when the anti-HERO campaign was, and continues to be, particularly vicious toward transgender people?

Dan Patrick, Gary Abbott, the “Campaign for Houston”, “Texas Values” and the right-wing in Houston are pretty damn unbelievable in their “win” against transgender women. They demand grace from Annise Parker, but are very ungracious, snidely and spiteful in their reaction to the result. The transgender people who were targeted explicitly by Patrick and Abbott as “men in women’s restrooms” in the campaign are nowhere to be found in their reactions.

I wonder if, thanks to this vote, it will now be acceptable to assault, attack and harm transgender women in Houston. They were targeted hard by cartoons and vicious rhetoric throughout the state by the Christian right-wing, called “perverts” and “confused men” who would harm “6 year old girls”. This was statewide, and this was scary.

The target wasn’t even L, G or B people. None of them. It was the T. I will not be surprised when a transgender woman trying to use the restroom is violently attacked in Texas, and the Christian right clucks its tongue at the transwoman saying “That confused ‘man’ was wrong to go into the wrong bathroom and look like that, ‘he’ had it coming. No sympathy from me, he deserved it!”

That rhetoric won last night. Those who spoke it are effluent in their gloating. This is a bad way for Mayor Parker to leave office. This next year in Houston will be particularly bad for transgender women. In the name of getting a similar ordinance passed in Houston, any mention of “gender identity” may even be stripped out of the ordinance for expediency’s sake a la ENDA. The optics of this are hard to overcome, and must be fought for years to come. But the lives of transgender people in Houston must be watched out for as the next few years unfold.

One of the worst aspects of the campaign, it has come out, is that African-Americans (constituting over 25% of the population) were not targeted by HERO ads or rallies, nor were the Latino/Mexican-American/Hispanic 37% of the population of Houston. If so, this campaign was hobbled from the very start. These demographics and their solitudes were not reached by the HERO campaign, and even I, while phone-banking, noticed that no African-Americans who I talked to on the phone were going to vote Yes.

So many of the beneficiaries of a Yes would have been people of color and especially LGBT people of color. So why were they not targeted? Why were they not engaged? How could you do so bad by voters over the course of a year that you only get 37% of the vote? This is SHAMEFUL.

I remain proud to have phone-banked for HERO. I am ashamed of this tragedy and of how avoidable it was. I am afraid for trans lives in Houston, Texas and elsewhere. #‎TransLivesMatter ‬‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬.

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6 thoughts on “The Tragedy in Houston Last Night”

    1. “Proposition 1, supported by Mayor Annise Parker, would have allowed men, who claimed to be women, to use women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.”
      This is the tragedy you have in mind? Really?
      Somewhat over-dramatic I think.
      I also found it somewhat confusing that for someone who is so taken up with the cause of ‘tolerance’ your blog drips with venom for your ‘perceived’ opponents.

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      1. 1. I don’t use the word “tolerance”. Check your eyes, dude.
        2. Like opponents, you ignore the 15 demographic categories of protections it offered to all residents of Houston. But no. Using a restroom stall in peace and privacy is a travesty to some people.
        3. Ignorance of the anti-HERO side is the tragedy. I call it as I see it.
        4. “Venom”? That’s pretty over-dramatic.

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  1. 1. Tolerance is the theme running explicitly and implicitly throughout your article.
    2. I think ‘using a restroom stall in peace and privacy’ is the very issue here. Changing things would definitely make it a whole lot more awkward. I don’t think it should be conflated into a civil-rights conflagration.
    3. This is not a tragedy. It’s not like society-at-large are being bathroom-Nazi’s. “No poop for you!” It’s just that they decided the status quo should stay in place.
    4. I reread your blog. You weren’t being venomous. I apologize. Heated and passionate. Those are concepts I understand too.

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    1. 1. Equity, equality and freedom for the vulnerable are my aims. I’ve learned that “tolerance” is used in highly-sarcastic ways by our country’s social conservatives, abused by the same in a wrecking manner to mean “you should tolerate our acts of scapegoating disgust against the long-vulnerable”, and is most extensively used in my generation in the form of “zero-tolerance”. I’ve learned that tolerance is impossible when understanding and empathy are missing from the minds of the more-privileged. In this country of duopolistic partisanship, of no nuance nor multiple options, that is the state of mind (or siege) in which we live.
      2. Like I said in the previous comment, 15 categories of people would have been protected under HERO, only one of which (gender identity) remotely touched on transgender public accommodations. Race, national origin, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy status, etc. More complains of discrimination filed with City Hall were in regard to race and sex. Civil rights were at stake at a municipal level, which is why the local NAACP supported it.
      3. I wrote about that. Right now, those who dress as a gender identity different from their sex are vulnerable to those who would do violence against them in the same-sexed restroom. Why should they face that when their gender identity doesn’t conform to their sex or to the restroom in which they’re told to do their business? Who is going to be bothered to check someone’s genitalia when they go into the restroom, other than someone who is going to harm them? Those are the questions raised by the “No Men in Women’s Restrooms” mantra.
      4. Apology accepted. I am heated and passionate about this. I’m also worried for the safety and self-care of Houston-area bloggers (who I read) who stood to gain equality in their lives from HERO becoming law. Texas’ professional social conservatives are more vocally vicious and snidely against their opponents and hobby horses than social conservatives in many other states (even here in GA), so I would hate to feel what sort of impact this will have on those Houston-area activists and bloggers.

      HERO was the most ambitiously-intersectional piece of civil rights legislation I’ve ever seen put to a popular vote at a local level. Very forward-thinking and forward-seeing. It will take years for Houston and a lot of the South to catch up.

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