Plano ordinance: Questions remain

Posted on 26 Dec 2014 at 7:45am

Staff and Board of Transgender
Education Network of Texas

We, the staff and board of Transgender Education Network of Texas are of mixed reaction in regard to news about the passage of a non-discrimination ordinance in Plano.

On the one hand, taking steps towards treating all city employees in a fair and just manner based on merits rather than preconceived ideas and prejudice is an act worthy of respect. On the other hand, implementing provisions into that same ordinance allowing nonprofits to continue practicing bigotry in providing services severely undercuts any advance possibly made.

Findings from the 2010 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, as filtered for the state of Texas, demonstrate that 26 percent of transgender Texans lost a job based on their gender identity/expression, and 17 percent became homeless for the same reason.

However, the city of Plano has created a situation wherein those who most need services such as shelter and other public accommodations can be turned away, refused service and ignored or treated badly simply because of who they are.

Further findings show that in public accommodations and services:
• 47 percent were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation or service, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.
• 23 percent were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official.
• 16 percent were denied equal treatment or harassed by judges or court officials.
• 23 percent of those who have interacted with police reported harassment by officers.
• 41 percent reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.

We are left wondering: What is the real intent of Plano’s non-discrimination ordinance? To look good on paper, but really do nothing? Or to just disguise better the injustice already being done?

The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) is an organization dedicated to furthering the gender diverse equity in the state of Texas. We work to accomplish this through education and networking in both public and private forums. Through our efforts we strive to halt discrimination through social, legal, legislative and corporate education.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 26, 2014.

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