Parkland adds trans protections

Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell addresses the Parkland board about the changes Tuesday morning.

Parkland Hospital’s Board of Managers voted unanimously to add gender identity to its Equal Employment Opportunity and harassment policies Tuesday morning.

The vote by the full board came after the Human Resources Committee approved the wording at its Jan. 16 meeting. The wording provides protections for gender identity and expression, as well as genetic information for employees and patients.

In April, trans woman Paula Witherspoon was issued a ticket for using a women’s restroom while at the hospital with her husband who had suffered a heart attack.

Dr. Roberto De la Cruz, a gay board member, met with Witherspoon and hospital officials in May. He said he wanted a policy to protect trans patients but it would take time.

De la Cruz said that he was glad the policy changes passed to ensure that trans employees and patients will feel comfortable. After the ticket, Witherspoon would call him and he would have someone escort her to a restroom when she was visiting her husband. He said she called fairly often while her husband was being treated, adding that he hopes the changes will make her more comfortable when she returns.

“With this, I hope that she feels that she is welcome to use the facilities of the¬†hospital at¬†any level, as a companion to her partner or as a patient herself,” he said.

Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell spoke after the vote in public remarks. He and the center had met with Parkland officials before the vote to encourage the approval of the changes.

Addressing the board, McDonnell thanked them for voting in favor of the changes, especially when a few decades ago the hospital was sued for its treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS. Parkland added sexual orientation protections a few years ago and began offering domestic partner benefits last year.

“That’s an amazing change in 25 years and each one of you deserves applause and praise for that,” McDonnell said.

—  Anna Waugh