Texas Transgender Groups Go to War >With Each Other< Over Plano's Human Rights Ordinance

tent 2
Nell Gaither president of the Dallas-based Trans Initiative posted this graphic on Facebook.

There’s a storm brewing in Texas that’s threatening our very LGBT foundation. At the epicenter is the city of Plano’s amended human rights ordinance.

There’s a lot of smoke surrounding this issue so it’s important to clear the air.

There’re a few things I’m fairly certain of living just outside of Plano (in Texas miles).

    Plano revised its human rights ordinance at the request of Toyota to include their employees
    Plano was in contact with two gay and lesbian advocacy groups asking for input.
    All Texas transgender groups have said they were purposely excluded from the drafting of the ordinance.
    The ordinance fails to satisfy Toyota’s request as it codifies exclusion of trans people from public accommodations.
    HRC opposes Plano’s ordinance for the same reasons most trans people do because it is transgender exclusive and creates unsafe environments.
    Despite the vast majority of trans people opposing the ordinance TENT (Transgender Education Network Texas) supports it.
    Tent’s position although intrinsically flawed is not without merit.

Tent issued a position Statement which acknowledges that the ordinance does not offer sufficient protections in public accommodations but asks trans people to support it because it would give TENT an opportunity to ‘fix it’ in the future.

Therein lies the problem. TENT isn’t going to ride in on their white stallion, should the ordinance withstand a public vote, and make everything all right. The reality is TENT is willing to stand by their partner gay and lesbian groups for political expediency at the expense of the trans community.

The Texas Trans Pride Iniaitive issued a position paper:

trans pride position paper

There will be a public showdown when the ordinance makes it onto Plano’s council agenda, but you won’t know who the players are playing for without a scorecard

Supporting the ordinance:

Equality Texas is supporting the ordinance.

TENT supports it.


Transgender Texans represented by the Trans initiative are opposed to the ordinance.

HRC is against it.

Assorted Rightwing groups oppose it simply because it has the word ‘transgender’ included in it. They really couldn’t care less if it’s good or bad, just that it is trans-inclusive in any way. (idiots should be working to support it).

Disclaimer: The author was a member of TENT before it lost its advocacy mandate while it was still called TACT. She quit the group after they said they wanted to expand to the DFW but turned down her offers to help with that. She felt at the time that the new leadership was more concerned with controlling the message than actually working in the best interests of the whole community.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


  1. GALA was contacted in October and asked to have some input into the Plano NDO. Representatives met with City Officials and gave suggestions. They were not a part of the writing of the ordinance nor did they see the finished product until after it was passed by the City Council. After it was put on the City Council agenda, passed, and published two times as the Plano City Charter requires for it to take effect was a meeting with transgender representatives set up by City Officials to explain the ordinance to us. Being on the Board of TENT I managed to get myself invited. Before the meeting began I discovered, by their own admission, that I was the only transperson present who had read the new ordinance. The meeting began with negativity, hateful accusations, and what need to be done before the ordinance was passed. At one point the city was threatened with demonstrations and marches if they didn’t write the ordinance as that person wanted it written. When the City was asked about Police Department policy it was explained that they had their own policy and the City Attorney did not have it before her. This was met with accusations of a City cover up of their mistreatment of the transgender community. At no time did it seem to register that the Ordinance had already become law. We were not invited there to help write it.

    After that meeting, determined to discover the truth and how things could be changed, meetings were set up with GALA and a Board member of Equality Texas. Also meetings were held with City Officials: the Deputy City Manager, City Attorney, Assistant City Attorney, Assistant Deputy City Manager, Chief of Police, legal representative for the Police Department, and others were spoken with including the Mayor and some City Council members.

    Liberty Institute notified the city it was collecting signatures to file a petition for the Ordinance to be repealed by the City Council or put to a City wide vote in their May elections. This legally tied the hands of the City and forbid them from changing the ordinance prior to the verification of the signatures.

    TENT continued to meet with City Officials to educate them on the transgender communities and help them understand us. TENT met with the Chief of Police and discovered that the Police Policy was based on those used in California and basically stated that the police would treat any individual as the gender which that individual stated they were. In the case of incarceration the individual would be given the choice of being interred with the general population of their stated gender or placed in a cell by themselves.

    On February 23 the City Council met and the City Attorney explained that because of state statues not followed on the petitions even after the City had point out these problems to the petitioners, the petitions were ruled invalid. The new Ordinance stood as uncontested law in Plano.

    The Mayor and some City Council members faced another immediate problem. Several of them were up for re-election in the City’s May election. Before doing anything else concerning the Ordinance they needed to get re-elected. TENT partnered with GALA to work for the re-election of the Mayor, who was bold enough to present an ordinance that gave any rights to the LGBT communities in an older, above average income, conservative, Republican City of its size in Texas, the re-election of the City Council members who supported the ordinance, and to replace City Council members who opposed the ordinance. TENT and GALA sees this as the next step in getting correcting amendments made to this existing ordinance, as opposed to a new Mayor and City Council members who would be more likely to amend the ordinance removing all protection to the LGBT communities.

    I urge you not to throw Equality Texas, GALA, or TENT under the bus because we chose to deal with the reality before us and took a different path leading to the same goal, a fully inclusive city ordinance.


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