Houston’s HERO Ordinance: Wishing To Make Things So

Gender Identity means an individual’s innate identification, appearance, expression or behavior as either male or female, although the same may not correspond to the individual’s body or gender as assigned at birth.”Houston Equal Rights Ordinance

Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (“HERO”) will be on the local ballot this November. As I have noted elsewhere, the ordinance is a real mess of a measure. Of particular concern is the way the ordinance defines gender identity, one of the categories protected from “discrimination.” The origin of the ordinance’s definition of gender identity remains obscure. An internet search yields no clues. I emailed my city council member, Ellen Cohen, but she has not replied. We can only examine the definition on its face to expose its apparent meaning.

The ordinance’s listed markers for gender—innate identification, appearance, expression, behavior—are not a set of requirements. An “individual’s innate identification” alone is sufficient to establish his or her gender under this law. Thus a person would not have to undergo any physical transformation or even to dress or behave in a particular way to claim a gender status. A person born male, for example, could simply assert an “innate identification” as a female in order to be treated as one. He could claim, among other things, the right to use women’s restrooms. In Missouri a male student has claimed the right to use girls’ restrooms and locker rooms under a similar policy in that state. The Houston Chronicle recently argued that the law would permit business owners to control who goes into their bathrooms, but there is nothing in the law that assures them that right. On the contrary, the ordinance would give a man the right to be treated as a woman (and a woman as a man) in every applicable area of law.

There is no real science backing up the definition of gender identity in this ordinance. No area of human knowledge has confirmed that an innate gender identification can exist independent of the gender one is physically born with. Indeed, the word “innate” itself implies “inborn”. The definition appears to be an exercise in wish fulfillment carried out by the LGBT movement. Presumably the word was used here to provide transgender status an unearned naturalness and legitimacy. But words cannot make a thing so. A round world might profess itself flat and remain just as round as it ever was.

For all its strange progressivism, though, the ordinance is partly quite old-fashioned. It presupposes a world in which there are only two genders and the genders are actually distinct. How, after all, could a man claim to “feel like a woman inside” unless there was some real difference in how men and women feel? Of course, that is probably just a tactical concession. The LGBT movement really has its eyes set on the total obliteration of traditional gender categories. In essence, Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance is an attempt to drag the people of Houston on an absurd path toward an even more absurd destination. We’ll see in November whether voters will consent to be dragged.

2 responses

  1. Yes, the ordinance refers to gender identity as “assigned” at birth. As if your sex were a number taped to the back of your T-shirt.

  2. Our society continues to use the two words “sex” and “gender” as if they mean the same thing. I think we just don’t like to say “sex” thinking it’s too crude. To be simple, sex describes our physical (biological) construction. Gender is the word we use to describe the culturally defined roles we socialize children into based on their sex. Up until recent advances in medical technology, when someone reported that they felt psychologically as if they were one sex, trapped in the physical body of the opposite sex, they were characterized as having a disorder. Advances in reconstructive surgery allows a new definition of the situation.

    The pursuit of happiness has no reasonable end in sight, does it?

    I wonder what we will do when someone decides they are a little red wagon?

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