Charlotte Sports Venues Clarify Transgender Policy for Public Bathrooms
Yes, there are transgender people who like attending sports events.
So, an activist in sports-centric North Carolina has waged a personal crusade to clarify the policies at sports stadiums, arenas and race tracks on bathroom access.
“People who are transgender or LGBT, we are football fans, too,” said Janice Covington Allison, a local transgender activist, to the Charlotte LGBT website Qnotes. And, Allison said, they sometimes have to use the bathroom.
Because of her efforts, all the major venues — Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte Knights’ BB&T Ballpark — have gone on the record to say that transgender patrons can use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
The issue of which bathrooms transgender people use remains a hot-button issue nationwide, one The Advocate has covered extensively. There have been Twitter campaigns to argue a trans man no more belongs in the women’s restroom than a trans woman belongs in the men’s, such as #WeJustNeedToPee.
Charlotte’s City Council voted down a proposed LGBT-inclusive public accommodations ordinance on March 2. Following the vote, Allison and a trans girl were challenged by anti-LGBT activists, when they tried to use the ladies room in the government center building, as The Advocate reported.
City Manager Ron Carlee later told Allison that transgender people may use the restroom consistent with their gender identity in city owned buildings — including the government center, Bojangles’ Coliseum, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, the convention center and others. That response is what inspired Allison to try other places, Qnotes reports.
Bank of America Stadium responded to Allison by email last month:
“After 20 years of operations, we undoubtedly have had transgender persons attend events here and, presumably, they have used the restroom of the gender with which they identify,” wrote the stadium’s director of operations, Scott Paul. “Bank of America has facilities for women and men, and we have family/unisex restrooms throughout the stadium for attendees with small children or for those who desire more privacy. Please plan to use the facilities in which you feel most comfortable.”
BB&T Ballpark echoed that sentiment a few days later.
“The Knights do not have a policy concerning restroom access for transgender patrons,” wrote Charlotte Knights Executive Vice President/COO Dan Rajkowski in an email on June 29. “Patrons are free to choose restrooms at BB&T Ballpark based on their gender identity.”
And, just this week, Allison heard from Charlotte Motor Speedway, her employer. She’s worked at the speedway for more than two decades, as part of the maintenance team and then teaching motorsports safety as a fire coordinator.
“All persons are welcome at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” the venue’s Guest Services department wrote in a letter dated July 17. “We do not have a specific restroom policy and we do monitor the facilities for orderly conduct. If you plan to join us for an event, please use the restroom for the gender with which you identify.”
But in Charlotte, some smaller businesses — including local restaurant chain Nobles Restaurants and a real estate development company called Vision Ventures — remain deadset against LGBT-inclusive public accommodations. Owners of several companies signed a public letter to the city council in February opposing the idea.