Gender neutral bathrooms to sweep Houston


Photo by: rebekah

Story by: Rebekah Kish, Online Editor

Mayor Annise Parker proposed a non-discrimination ordinance in May of 2014 known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) which will take effect in June and prohibit businesses open to the public from denying a transgender individual entry to the restroom consistent with their gender identity.

“The HERO ordinance is very important to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community,” LGBT Resource Center director Lorraine Schroeder said to The Daily Cougar, the University of Houston newspaper. “Unfortunately, LGBTQ people still are discriminated against in the workplace, and this ordinance will give them a legal leg to stand on when this happens.”

As of Jan. 2015,  225 cities prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in public and private employment. Transgender sophomore Aaron Brown said he supports the idea of gender neutral bathrooms.

“I get stares in girls’ bathroom and I am way too scared to go in the guys’ bathroom because a lot of guys know me,” he said.

Psychology Today  described  gender dysphoria as being “categorized by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.” Cambridge University students LGBTQ union defined gender dysphoria as “an underlying and incessant disquiet or anxiety centred on the understanding that identity is not reflected by the gender of your body. It can exist in range of intensities from the mild and intermittent, to the permanent, demanding and disabling.” Brown lists the myths and truths of being trnasgender.

“We are still people, that we are not intersex, we’re switching genders pretty much we’re not comfortable with the body that we’re in and yes that is possible,” Brown said. “And we’re just like any other person.”

On Dec. 9, 2014, a Gloucester County School Board in Virginia changed their bathroom policy by creating unisex bathrooms for transgender students at the request of student Gavin Grimm after Grimm was originally allowed to use the nurse’s bathroom.

“Having to use a special bathroom highlights a difference when Gavin just wants to be like everyone else,” The Washington Post said about Grimm.

Junior Corbin Young does not agree with unisex bathrooms because he believes if he went into a female bathroom problems would arise. However, he feels if someone has transitioned than it should not present a problem.

“I believe the pros of this, satisfying the small population,” he said. “Now with the rest of the population, it will disturb most people if the woman/man is predominantly the opposite sex walking into the restroom. I think it will cause commotion that can easily be avoided.”

A freshman transgender student who preferred not to be named said they were more concerned about cisgender people attacking transgender people for going into the bathroom they identify with.

“I think it would be really great to let trans people go into the bathroom that matches their gender because going into the bathroom that doesn’t match their gender can trigger their dysphoria and just make them feel worse,” the student said.

Senior Alec Lintz thinks transgender people should use the bathroom for the gender they identify with, but expresses concerns that some cisgender people could take advantage of the situation.

“There could be a creepy cisgender person who dressed as the opposite sex with the intention of taking advantage of people in that bathroom,” he said.

Junior Geruine Lim said she feels those who choose which gender bathroom to go to should feel more comfortable with themselves and gender identification, but others may feel uncomfortable with the situation and react with hostility.

“But to be honest, whenever we go to the bathroom we usually mind our own business and don’t bother wanting to know if the other person in the next stall is biologically male or female, so I don’t see why there should be any problem,” she said.

The ordinance represents a big step towards transgender equality but could result in repercussions, according to freshman Sam Billings.

“Other people in the restrooms might treat a transgender person badly for using that restroom either with emotional or physical means,” she said.

Brown said bottling feelings up will cause more emotional problems.

“I feel like it’s important to be who you want to be as early as you can because you shouldn’t bottle it up inside who you really are,” he said.

General Counsel Marney Collins Sims said that the HERO ordinance does not apply to CFISD, but anyone  can request accommodation for access to sex-segregated areas based upon their identified gender the district will be determined case-by-case within the Title IX for students and Title VII for employees, .

Parker’s office did not return comment by publication deadline on how the HERO ordinance will affect schools in the future. For more information go to  for the official press release.