A security guard was arrested for assaulting a transgender woman in a grocery store bathroom Monday.
Ebony Belcher was inside a wome’s restroom at a Giant in Washington, D.C., when the guard burst in, yelled at Belcher, and then kicked her out of the establishment.
"She opened the door and came in and started calling me derogatory names," the 32-year-old woman told WRC-TV, a local NBC affiliate.
Belcher said she has Parkinson’s disease and almost fell after she was shoved. She recounted how the guard told her, "You guys cannot keep coming in here and using our women's restroom. They did not pass the law yet."
It's unclear what law the guard was referring to, since Washington, D.C., has long guaranteed transgender people equal access in public accommodations — including expressly permitting transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
But political hand-wringing over which facilities transgender people should use has been at the forefront of national news since March 23, when North Carolina passed a law that, among other grievances, forbids transgender people from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
The law, known as House Bill 2, has sparked national debate, a boycott of the state, a lawsuit from the Department of Justice, and a letter from the Department of Education that tells all public schools to respect the rights of trans students — including allowing them to use the restroom that best matches their gender identity.
The guard, whose name has not yet been publicly released, was arrested by D.C. police for simple assault. Several local media outlets report that she could face hate-crime charges, as D.C.'s hate crime law covers a victim being targeted for their actual or percieved sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Giant issued the following statement:
"Giant has a longstanding commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment in which all associates and all customers are treated fairly and with respect at all times. We view the choice of restroom as a personal matter, and if any customer feels uncomfortable at any point shopping in our stores for any reason, we encourage them to speak to a member of store management, who have both the experience and the discretion to address all issues. Clearly, in this case, a third party security guard appears to have acted inappropriately, and we apologize unreservedly."