Local

Controversy over mayor's transgender order

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A person who was born a man, but lives life as a woman, was arrested after using the women's bathroom at a downtown Houston library. But was it really illegal? The confusion has a local pastor's group calling on the Texas Attorney General to decide.

As a transgendered woman, Majanae Chambers is all too familiar with the debate over which bathroom she should use.

"If you live a life as a female, you should go into the female restroom because I went to a male restroom before and I got harassed in a male restroom," Chambers said.

But just last Wednesday, Houston police arrested a person at the city's main library for "knowingly entering a restroom of the opposite sex."

HPD says Nathanial Tyrone Moore told officers that he is in the process of becoming a woman, but was still technically a man.

"I mean if he's now a female, I guess they get to use the female one. They have stalls, right?" said one male library patron.

Earlier this year, Houston Mayor Annise Parker expanded an anti-discrimination executive order that allowed city employees to use restrooms based on their gender identity. But it's unclear if that order conflicts with existing city statute.

It's one reason why the conservative Houston Area Pastor Council has asked the attorney general for an opinion.

"It's the sort of legal and moral confusion we fully expected to take place and shows why it's a bad public policy. It needs to be reversed because there is no legal standard of what gender identity means," said Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council.

But Chambers says it doesn't matter what happens in the legal realm - being transgendered means facing obstacles.

"It don't matter who you are, what you are, you're always going to be discriminated against," said Chambers.

Court records show Moore pleaded guilty to using the restroom of an opposite gender and she was actually given credit for the two nights he spent in jail.

The mayor's office issued a statement Monday evening saying, "There appears to be a misunderstanding regarding applicability of my executive order and we need to clarify that. This is a matter of providing practical solutions in a diverse city. It is not about behavior. Where there is inappropriate behavior, there will be enforcement."

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