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Transgender woman ticketed for using ladies room

Paula Witherspoon, a transgender woman who was cited for disorderly conduct after using the ladies room at a Dallas, Texas, hospital, tells KXAS-TV's Ellen Goldberg the experience was "humiliating" and "degrading."

A Dallas transgender woman was issued a ticket for using the women's restroom at an area hospital.

Parkland police cited Paula Witherspoon, whose legal name is Paul Witherspoon, for disorderly conduct on April 25.

"It was definitely humiliating, degrading," she said. "I felt like I was being discriminated against."

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A Parkland Hospital representative said the hospital received a complaint from a concerned female patient about a man in the women's restroom.

"This is 2012, and I've been transitioning since 2006, and I've never had a problem until I went to Parkland Hospital," Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon said she doesn't even remember seeing anyone else in the restroom until she walked out.

"There was a lady there that said, 'That's a man.' I just ignored her and kept going," Witherspoon said.

Minutes later, a Parkland officer came over and cited her, she said. Witherspoon said she offered to show the officer a transition letter from her doctor that states, "She is expected to use facilities consistent with her external presentation, which is female."

But Parkland police told her they have to go by what is on her license, Witherspoon said.

Under Texas law, Witherspoon must have acted "intentionally or knowingly for a lewd or unlawful purpose" to be cited with disorderly conduct.

"I went to the bathroom, took care of my business, washed my hands and left," Witherspoon said. "I didn't even see anyone."

Parkland Hospital released the following statement: "Because of the complexity of the issue, the incident is currently under review. Parkland strives to treat patients, visitors and staff with dignity and respect, as well as provide a safe environment at all times."

Anti-discrimination laws in 16 states and the District of Columbia provide protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people, but Texas is not one of them, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is calling for lawmakers in New York to pass legislation that will offer such protections.

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