Questions linger over DART board's vote Tuesday night on transgender protections

DART board member Ray Noah, left, and agency general counsel Hyattye Simmons look on during last night's meeting. Noah is the board member who inserted the one-word amendment that would have gutted the proposal. And Simmons has been accused of engineering the plan.
DART board member Ray Noah, left, and agency general counsel Hyattye Simmons look on Tuesday night. Noah is the board member who proposed a one-word amendment last week that would have gutted the transgender protections. And Simmons may have been a co-conspirator.

We have phone calls and e-mails in to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons seeking clarification and confirmation about what exactly the agency’s Board of Directors approved last night with regard to transgender protections.

There are two conflicting interpretations of what happened during the meeting. We’ll explain after the jump.

—  John Wright

Transgender former officer says DART board member Ray Noah liked to call her a 'him'

Ray Noah

We received a note this morning from Diana J. Powe, a former police officer for the city of Richardson who happens to be transgender. Powe wrote us about Ray Noah, the DART board member from Richardson who proposed the amendment Tuesday night that gutted the agency’s proposed transgender protections. As we reported earlier, Noah has said he believes DART should have the right to discriminate against trans people when necessary. Powe, who transitioned in 2000 and retired in 2007, recounted her experiences working with Noah, who is the presiding judge for Richardson Municipal Court:

Ray Noah is not only the current (just renewed on April 26th by the Richardson City Council) DART representative for Richardson but he is also the presiding judge for the Richardson municipal court. In that capacity, he had numerous instances to interact with a transgendered employee of the city. I was a police officer in November 2000 when I transitioned from male to female with the complete support of then-police chief Ken Yarbrough, then-mayor Gary Slagel, and current city manager Bill Keffler. I continued in that capacity until I retired on May 31, 2007 after 26 years-plus with RPD. Having spent all but a little more than two years of my career in patrol, I had innumerable instances of testifying in court with Judge Noah on the bench both before and after I transitioned. While he was unfailingly polite in his demeanor and speech toward me, he also routinely accidentally referred to me when I was on the witness stand with the male pronoun post-transition. This caused some defendants and jurors obvious confusion considering the fact that I had extensive facial surgery to ensure my feminine appearance. This effect was often heightened when he would apologize in court for his mistake.

As I didn’t work for Judge Noah and knowing that he had a long history in the city (he was mayor from 1968-1983) I chose to rise above something which didn’t seem enough of a problem to create any controversy over, most especially since I had no way of knowing if his error was just that or something else. However, having read your story about this proposed change in the DART policy, I have to wonder about Judge Noah’s actual personal views on gender-variant people and whether they might be part of his motivation. I thought this piece of background might be useful as you pursue this story.


Diana J. Powe

—  John Wright