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A new gay bar in Vermont has changed its name after the old one caused a community wide conversation about transphobia.
The bar, announced earlier this year in Winooski, was called "Mister Sister." Although the bar's owner said his business is trans-inclusive, the name became the topic of a town hall meeting at the local LGBT center.
The bar's owner announced a name change this week when he said it became clear that the name "Mister Sister" was bringing out transphobia from others.
"A trans woman wrote me a kind letter and explained that the problem here is much bigger than myself or the name of the bar," wrote Craig McGaughan on the bar's Facebook page. "She sent me link to many messages from folks claiming to support MS using public forums to create hate toward the trans community. I am a trans ally and when faced with the fact that this issue has created a platform for trans people to be blatantly abused, I had to act."
The Pride Center also reported that it had observed a "resurgence of violently transphobic sentiments."
"I'm outraged that anyone has attacked the trans community under the guise of supporting me or the bar," wrote McGaughan.
The bar is now renamed as The Bridge Club as a nod to the historic Winooski Bridge, to building bridges between communities, and because of the irony of going to The Bridge Club to party.
Two board members resigned from The Pride Center when it did not immediately condemn the bar's original name, instead calling for the town hall and further discussion. The former board members called the name "hate speech," reports the Burlington Free Press. The newspaper said some supporters of the bar saw the name as an inclusive term from the history of the LGBT movement.
Instead of getting further locked into two warring sides, McGaughan said a change was needed.
"I realize now that I mistakenly listened to the fight rather than the pain," he wrote on Facebook. "I apologize to anyone that feels personally affected by the actions of myself or the bar. I'm choosing to forgive and would ask for forgiveness in return."
The Pride Center's executive director, Susan Hartman, told WFFF the community welcomes the name change. She said some considered the old name "an innocent funny little phrase" but "many people have been harmed deeply by it, and that was a message we needed to hear."