Houston Mayor Annise Parker has signed
an executive order that adds gender identity to the city's
12-year-old non-discrimination policy, the Houston Chronicle
The two orders signed by Parker protect
transgender individuals who work for the city from discrimination in
the areas of employment and accommodations.
“The mayor wanted to put in writing
what has already been the city's practice, which is that we do not
discriminate,” Janice Evans, Parker's spokeswoman, told the paper.
Gay rights advocates cheered the move.
“This is essential” Kris Banks,
president of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender
Political Caucus, said. “A non-discrimination provision that
protects sexual orientation but doesn't protect gender identity is
toothless. … It's quite a thing, having a mayor that really
understands all these issues.”
Parker, 53, became Houston's 61st
mayor in January after a long campaign that included personal attacks
against Parker because she is openly gay.
Dave Wilson, an outspoken gay rights
opponent who campaigned to make Parker's sexuality an issue during
the mayoral campaign, said he was “sad this is happening in our
The new protections allow transgender
individuals employed by the city to use restroom facilities in
city-owned buildings for the gender with which they identify.
Previously, the city decided the issue on a case-by-case basis.
Opponents say such measures allow men
to legally enter women's restrooms, putting women and children at
risk. Proponents counter that such behavior would be criminal.