Two weeks after a transgendered woman tried to use the restroom in a city building, she and the city seem still to be recovering.
A security guard at the downtown municipal library told police it was a man dressed in women's clothes that he saw entering the women's restroom. When police arrived, though, Tyjanae Moore said she wasn't a man, and wasn't exactly a woman either.
As HPD spokesman John Cannon told Hair Balls, the suspect explained that she was kind of in between -- a man on his way to becoming a woman, who needed to use the restroom. Since the library didn't have a restroom for people like her, she had chosen the ladies to avoid getting beaten up in the men's.
The officer quickly got to the heart of the matter. Though Moore was on hormone supplements and planning to have a sex-change operation, the officer determined that she did still have a penis and a legal name of Nathaniel Tyrone Moore, and was thus in violation of section 28-20 of the municipal code -- "Entering restrooms of opposite sex."
The suspect was deposited in the Harris County Jail.
In the men's unit of the jail?
Yes, said Cannon. "Remember -- he still has a penis."
Moore remained there two days before pleading guilty and accepting a sentence of time served. Hair Balls couldn't catch up with her, but the director of the Transgender Foundation of America said the plea was only to escape the jail.
"Of course, we weren't happy with the unlawful arrest and imprisonment of a transgender woman who simply needed to use the restroom," said Cristan Williams.
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Williams maintains that Moore should have been protected from arrest by the city's non-discrimination policy, as updated last spring by Mayor Annise Parker: "It shall be a violation of this Executive Order for an employee ... to impede access by any employee or member of the public to a city restroom facility that is consistent with and appropriate to that person's expression of gender identity."
And even without the nondiscrimination policy, even under the most conservative calculation of Moore's gender, she should never have been arrested for entering restrooms of the opposite sex, says Williams, because the ordinance declares it illegal only if done "in a manner calculated to cause a disturbance."
That was never Moore's intention, says Williams, but it may become hers.
As Moore considers whether to send a group of "extremely muscular, bald-headed, barrel-chested, transgendered men to use Houston's restrooms in compliance with the law," an HPD spokesman said the department's legal team is currently reviewing the law, trying to decide who should be allowed to use which public restroom.