Moni’s Thoughts On The 35th Anniversary Of The Houston Anti-Crossdressing Ordinance Repeal

Ann Mayes. Photo courtesy J.D. Doyle Collection.

I, wanted to post this on the anniversary date, but with all the breaking news that week, slipped my mind I needed to finish my thoughts about what this August 12, 1980 anniversary date meant to me as a trans Houstonian who graduated from high school three months before the odious ordinance died 

This ordinance was hated not only by the Houston trans community but by the Houston lesbian community and the drag community as well.

Little did I know that when I stepped outside dressed as moi in June 1980, anytime I stepped inside Studio 13 and sat in the audience watching a show or was just hanging out in Montrose en femme prior to that date, I was violating Section 28-42.4 of the city’s Code of Ordinances, AKA the Houston Anti-Crossdressing Ordinance that was the harassment weapon of choice for HPD their aimed at the Houston TBLG community at the time.

I’d seen Anne Mayes and coverage of her fight in the early 70’s to not be harassed by Herman Short’s HPD oppressors on the local news, and it was my first inkling that there was a name for what I was feeling at the time as a pre-teenager. 

Anne after her genital surgery and a 1978 Houston Chronicle interview dropped out of sight in the Houston trans community.  I wish I could tell her thank you for standing up for me and future generations of trans Houstonians who received the blessing of not knowing what it was like to go to jail for simply wanting to put on the clothes that matched who we are as people.

I would also love to talk to her simply to get a taste of what the late 60’s- early 70’s were like for trans historical purposes.

The Tireless Trans Crusader: Phyllis Frye, who became Texas’ first transgender judge in 2010, is shown here leading the Texas contingent at the 1979 March on Washington.

I wouldn’t meet Judge Phyllis Frye until a decade and a half later, but she at that time had been working for three and a half years to kill that ordinance to make it easier for hers, mine and future generations of trans Houstonians to be able to walk the streets without being messed with by HPD.

I also wasn’t aware of it until much later that our paths crossed while I was a UH freshman and she was at the UH law school working on her law degree. 

When she accomplished that on August 12, 1980 I was still working on my census enumerator summer job and wasn’t aware that the lobbying work she was doing at City Hall would have such a ginormous impact.

It’s also fitting to revisit this seeing that we have an ongoing attempt by a transphobe to inject anti-trans hatred into our city charter.

So Houston trans younglings, the next time y’all go out, you drag artists get or stage, or you lesbians decide you wish to wear a pair of jeans while out and about, say thank you to Phyllis, Anne and Rita Wanstrom   who enabled you to do so.

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