Transgender woman claims discrimination -

Transgender woman claims discrimination

DALLAS - From the purse to painted fingernails, Paula Witherspoon said she has been living as a transgender woman since 2006.

Last Wednesday, she was using a women's restroom at Parkland Hospital when someone reported her to police.

"I came out, washed my hands and I come out of the restroom, and there was a lady outside who said, 'Oh, that's a man,'" Witherspoon said. "I just ignored her."

Parkland's police report gives few details, but says the woman who reported Witherspoon "became afraid."

Witherspoon was cited for disorderly conduct.

She claims to carry a letter that explains her transgender rights. But News 8 has learned Paula Witherspoon isn't just a transgender woman.

Her legal name is Paul Ray Witherspoon.

According to state records, he was sentenced to 16 years for sexual assault of a child in 1990, and six years for indecency with a child.

Parkland police discovered all this information during questioning, along with the fact that Witherspoon is still on parole.

"It's not something I'm proud of, you know," admitted Witherspoon, who added that she was doing nothing in the restroom that would make anyone uncomfortable.

In this case, Witherspoon insists she is the victim of discrimination.

"We need to stand up for our rights," she said. "And that's what I'm doing. I'm not doing anything for myself, as much as transsexuals who follow after me, trying to transition."

Did Witherspoon's criminal record make a difference in Parkland's reaction? Parkland officials will only say the incident is under review.

"We strive to treat patients, visitors and staff with dignity and respect, as well as provide a safe environment at all times," a Parkland statement said.

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