Thursday, July 5, 2007

Here are two recent incidents involving (trans) genderand restroom access. They underscore how important it is for people to continue to fight for gender-neutral restrooms. - Joelle

Lesbian says restaurant ejected her from women's bathroom for looking too masculine
The Associated Press Monday, July 2, 2007

NEW YORK: A bouncer at a popular restaurant in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood ejected a lesbian customer from the women's bathroom after last month's gay pride march because she looked too masculine, the woman said Monday. Khadijah Farmer, 27, said the incident occurred June 24 at the Caliente Cab Company restaurant, where she had gone with her girlfriend and another friend to have dinner after the march. Farmer said she was using the women's bathroom when a male bouncer burst in and banged on the stall door, saying a customer had complained that there was a man in the women's room." I said, 'I am a woman and I am where I am supposed to be,'" said Farmer, speaking at a a news conference. "I offered to show him some identification. I was told that's neither here nor there."Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican restaurant known for its enormous margaritas and Checker-cab decor, did not immediately return a call for comment. Farmer said the bouncer escorted her to her table and forced her party to pay their check and leave. "I felt embarrassed and humiliated," said Farmer, aManhattan resident who works as a counselor at a residential program for people with disabilities. "I'm just hurt that even my wanting to prove that I'm female wasn't enough." Farmer is being represented by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is demanding that the restaurant train its staff not to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression. New York City law prevents discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Farmer is not a transgender person, but she said her appearance is masculine enough that she is sometimes mistaken for a man. "I'm never upset with that," she said. "I say very kindly, 'I'm female.' Usually I get, 'I'm so sorry.'"


To The Owner and Manager of Studio 13:

I am a transgendered man and I recently visited your club on Saturday night for Pride. I paid ten dollars cover to get into the bar and to celebrate with the other LGBT folks that were there. Unfortunately, I was harassed when I attempted to use the restroom. Since your men's room does not have a stall, I found it extremely uncomfortable to use that bathroom being that I am FTM (female-to-male) and do not have a penis, and therefore cannot use the urinal. When I attempted to use the women's room instead, I was accosted by your staff for trying to enter the bathroom. I tried to explain to your staff member that I was FTM and did not have a penis, therefore did not feel comfortable using the men's room. The staff person then harassed me repeatedly and demanded that I "show him" my genitals. This was extremely inappropriate and I felt attacked and discriminated against. Finally after trying to explain to this man why I needed to use the women's bathroom, the staffwoman next to him allowed me to go in. At this point, another male staff member grabbed onto my arm and refused to let me enter the women's bathroom. After being harassed a second time, I finally left the bar and went to the establishment across the street to use the restroom. Seeing as how you advertise your establishment as the"only gay club in Iowa City", I would think that you would be able to accommodate transgendered folks' bathroom needs who are patrons of your establishment. Unfortunately, when I visited your establishment on Saturday night, I was under the impression that it was the one place in Iowa City where I could feel "safe" and accepted. Especially since your theme for the evening was Celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride. I would suggest that you either construct a bathroom stall in the men's restroom or make the restrooms unisex in order to prevent further discrimination from occurring. I am sending this email to you, as well as to everyone I know in this community so that many people in this community are aware of your discriminatory practices regarding transgender people. Perhaps this will persuade you to change and to enlighten your staff regarding this matter. Sincerely, M. Finnegan Klein

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