Houston cops should brush up on city ordinances

Posted on 23 Nov 2010 at 5:15pm

On Monday we told you about a transgender woman in Houston who was arrested last week for using the women’s restroom at a city library. The woman, who identifies as female but has not had sexual reassignment surgery, was charged with entering a restroom of the opposite sex.

Again, the woman’s arrest goes against a comprehensive nondiscrimination policy enacted by Mayor Annise Parker that allows people to use restrooms at city facilities based on their gender identity. But as it turns out, regardless of the nondiscrimination policy, this appears to have been a false arrest. That’s because the city ordinance on which the arrest was based clearly states that it’s only a violation if the person enters a restroom of the opposite sex “in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.” According to TransGriot, a cisgender woman successfully sued the city in 1990 after she was arrested for using a men’s restroom because she didn’t want to wait in the long women’s line. Here’s the city ordinance, taken directly from Municicode, with the relevant portion bolded:

Sec. 28-20. – Entering restrooms of opposite sex.

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally enter any public restroom designated for the exclusive use of the sex opposite to such person’s sex without the permission of the owner, tenant, manager, lessee or other person in charge of the premises, in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance.


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