Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center, today sent an open letter to Texas Sen. Don Huffines, taking the Republican to task for Tweets he sent out Tuesday, Nov. 10, condemning Dallas City Council’s vote to clarify language in the city’s equal rights ordinance regarding protections based on gender identity and gender expression.
The ordinance, first approved by the council in 2002, originally included gender identity and gender expression under the protected class of “sexual orientation,” although sexual orientation is not generally considered to include gender identity and expression. Tuesday’s vote was intended to clear up any confusion.
Huffines, however, pointed to a Nov. 3 referendum in which Houston voters defeated that city’s equal rights ordinance following a vitriolic campaign in which opponents mislabeled the ordinance as a “bathroom bill” and focused on scare tactics claiming it would allow sexually predatory men to dress in women’s clothing to harass and attack women and girls in public restrooms. He called the Dallas council’s vote a “sneak attack” taken without giving the public a chance to comment on the change, although the amendment has been in discussion and open to public comment for a year or more.
Huffines called for the ordinance to be repealed, telling Dallas Voice in a written statement that “Civic participation and public scrutiny have been lacking in this process.”
Huffines represents Senate District 16, which includes parts of Oak Lawn, Cox points out. Although Huffines’ district includes parts of Dallas, the senator himself actually lives in Highland Park, according to records Dallas Voice reporter James Russell found online.
Here is Cox’s letter in its entirety:
Dear Senator Huffines:
I am Cece Cox, the chief executive officer of Resource Center. For over 32 years, the Center has served the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as all people affected by HIV/AIDS. Parts of the Senator’s district include the Oak Lawn neighborhood, the historic home of Dallas’ LGBT community.
I am writing your office regarding your recent comments about the revision of the city of Dallas’ nondiscrimination ordinance, which was slightly modified this week by the Dallas City Council. The Center is a member of Mayor Rawlings’ LGBT Task Force, and several Center employees serve on that body.
Many of your comments lack a factual basis, which is disturbing given that you are making them in public to a large audience.
Here are some statistics about the transgender community you may not be aware of, according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Study, conducted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality:
1. 90% of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
2. 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
3. 26% reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming; and,
4. A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.
With that in mind, I would like to invite you to come to the Center and visit with me, as well as members of the transgender community. Words have meaning, and I think it is important that you have a chance to speak with community members affected by discrimination, and positively impacted by Tuesday’s City Council vote. I look forward to your reply.
Cece Cox, JD
Chief Executive Officer, Resource Center