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.