One week after HERO’s defeat, Dallas strengthens trans protections

Dallas would like the rest of the country to know that they aren’t Houston, updating their city’s non-discrimination ordinance to more clearly protect citizens based on their gender identity.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

When the Dallas ordinance was approved, “gender identity” was erroneously included under the definition of “sexual orientation.” The ordinance prohibits discrimination citywide in employment, housing and public accommodations. On Tuesday, the council voted to list “gender identity and expression” separately alongside sexual orientation, and more clearly define the terms.

It also more specifically defines those terms, defining gender identity as “an individual’s real or perceived gender identity as male, female, both, or neither” and sexual orientation as “the actual or perceived status of an individual with respect to the individual’s sexuality.”

Dallas, via Wikimedia Commons

Dallas, via Wikimedia Commons

Dallas has had an equal rights ordinance that covers LGBT people, along with a host of other demographic groups, on the books since 2002. As Media Matters noted multiple times during the false, hate-driven campaign against HERO, not once had anyone in the city taken advantage of the ordinance to go into a bathroom they weren’t supposed to in order to harass or assault anyone. And, of course, it’s already illegal to sexually assault someone — regardless of whether you’re in a bathroom or elsewhere.

This being the case, Dallas’s city council felt it was wholly non-controversial to update the ordinance to specifically protect trans people, although that didn’t stop Texas Values, an organization involved with the campaign to defeat HERO, from crying rapist, worryingly noting that the language in Dallas’s update is “strikingly similar” to the protections included in HERO. The organization’s president, Jonathan Saenz, said that Dallas could expect a “Texas sized response” following the update’s approval.

Which would be a shame, because Dallas is planning a Texas sized LGBT tourism campaign, which could show by way of example that voting down non-discrimination ordinances a la HERO is not only bad morals; it’s bad business.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • John B.

    As a former 23 year resident of Dallas, I want to say how happy I am to hear that the anti-discrimination ordinance has been strengthened by adding trans protections to it. I agree that things are hard away from the cities (and not a cakewalk IN them either at times) but a number of the larger cities DO have anti-discrimination ordinances in force. It was a sad day to hear that HERO was defeated in Houston. Just a reminder that people HAVE to get out and vote, especially when the Bible-thumpers are out in force spreading misinformation and distortion about LGBTQ people. Keep up the good work Dallas!

  • Good for Dallas.

  • There’s always this state over here to your west. ;-) Despite having a GOPer governor, it’s a pretty decent place to live.

  • The_Fixer

    Right you are on the arts, at least from my outside vantage point. I’ve listened to many talented Texas musicians of all stripes over the years – and I am not talking about the transplanted Nugent, who is neither Texan nor very talented.

    I wish you well on your exit, I am sure that it will be bittersweet, probably more sweet. I’m sure that you’ll find someplace more to your liking. I can completely sympathize, however I’m stuck here for the forseeable future.

    “Here” is Wisconsin, and we have a bunch of TEA/Republican party misfits ruining a formerly progressive state. They might have even used Texas as a template, they’re working on some nifty voter suppression laws, too.

    Anyplace the R gets a foothold, it’s like a malignant disease that is extremely difficult to excise. Like Texas, we have a long row to hoe before things have a chance at getting corrected.

  • No, they aren’t. We have some great art here to. I just saw the the premiere of a new opera with a libretto by Terrence McNally. The Menil in Houston. Symphonies, art museums. It’s not like this is a cultural wasteland and all the major cities have large gay communities. But a friend that works for one of the orchestras told me they got a few dozen calls after a concert on which the gay men’s chorus sang a couple of numbers. Homophobic rants and it never occurred to the callers that the people they were yelling at were in fact gay. (In the arts. Shocking, I know!) *sigh*

    I keep thinking it will get better. Texas should be going the way of California with the demographic shift but voter suppression works and Democrats have a hard time finding viable candidates. There’s no one in the party in a high enough position already to make a serious run for governor or Senator so we keep getting these embarrassments.

  • The_Fixer

    That’s the thing about Texas that’s so frustrating. Not everyone is nuts, and there are some quite talented and thoughtful people who hail from the state. Why they dumped Ann Richards for the Bush is a mystery (of course, a good part of the country allowed him to steal the Presidency by giving him credibility, so…).As you say, the ones that are nuts are extremely vocal and are horrible to others who are not like them.

    And that’s a shame. People of sanity immediately cross it off their list due to the jerks.

  • Indigo

    Whew! Dallas! I’m still traumatized from an event that happened there, live on black and white television, a long time ago. I have a short list of nightmares and Dallas is one of them. But thanks for the kindly sentiment, Dallas.

  • I live in Texas. It’s just embarrassing. Not everyone here is that bad, but given the numbers of those that are and how vocal they are about being horrible to other people not only can I not recommend that anyone come here unless they want to fly their bigot flag somewhere, but I’m getting out as soon as I can.

  • The_Fixer

    I’m one guy who never plans to visit any part of Texas – whether it be Houston, Dallas or Austin. It’s not necessarily those cities by themselves that are the problem, it’s everything between them and the state line. A lot of other gay people feel the same way, I’m sure. Or at least, that’s the impression I get from hearing what other gay people (and our supporters) have to say on the subject.

    Save the money you’ll spend on the tourism promotion campaign, Dallas. Spend it educating the rest of the state.

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