After Houston voters struck down a city ordinance protecting transgender people discrimination, some are calling for an economic boycott of the city -- including asking the National Football League to relocate its 2017 Super Bowl originally slated for Houston.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, was defeated by a wide margin, the Houston Chronicle reports. The ordinance would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and also a wide range of other factors already protected by federal law: sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.
Writing for Outsports, trans military veteran Brynn Tannehill called the vote ugly, pointing out the ordinance would have prevented discrimination in "jobs, housing, and in places of public accommodations — including hotels, restaurants, and public restrooms." Virtually every major city in the country has a similar ordinance, except Houston, she writes.
Opponents ran ads stoking fears that providing basic protections to trans people from discrimination would lead to men following little girls into the bathroom and assaulting them, fears Tannehill compared to the now-infamous Willie Horton ads, which played on the racist fear that African-Americans are somehow sinister.
"Opponents of the bill instead ran false ads claiming that this would allow transgender people to rape and murder people's wives and daughters. This accusation is completely baseless, and represents a naked attempt to demonize a group of people already being murdered in record numbers," Tannehill wrote, pointing out a record level of violence of 22 trans women murdered in 2015.
*This story has been updated to reflect comments by Tannehill in an email sent to Raw Story.
In an email to Raw Story, Tannehill said the campaign against transgender rights in Houston has put people directly in harm's way.
"Religious leaders have been so successful at dehumanizing transgender people there, that its only a matter of time before some vigilante kills another transgender woman, just for using the bathroom," she wrote. "We have seen 22 transgender women slain this year already, breaking the old record by a wide margin."
The message sent to trans Houstonians has been hostile and clear, she wrote. "'Leave. Disappear. You're not wanted. In fact, we hate you. You are vile. You are a threat to women and children.'"
"How can transgender people go through life on a day to day basis knowing that's what people think of you?" Tannehill wrote. "Then these same religious bigots remark, without a trace of understanding of irony of it all, on how transgender people need religious help because we so often suffer from anxiety and depression."
Tannehill recalled that the NFL has in the past punished cities for discriminating, notably Texas' neighbor state, Arizona. In 1990 the League punished the state by moving the Super Bowl when it failed to pass legislation honoring the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and again in 2014 threatened to move the game if Arizona passed laws that would allow people to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious grounds.
A Change.org petition has been launched calling on the NFL to boycott.
"The NFL claims to respect the human dignity of all their fans. Even this fan of the Cowboys who has watched since Roger Staubach handed the reins to Danny White," Tannehill writes.
Tannehill points out that to move the Super Bowl is the only ethical thing for the NFL to do now, in order to protect the well being of its fans. Move the Super Bowl, she concludes, "to a location where people like me are not put in mortal danger every time we need to use the bathroom."