A transgender woman in Washington, D.C., was asked to show her ID at a restaurant before entering its bathroom. She was kicked out of the establishment after refusing to comply.
Charlotte Clymer, a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, had been enjoying a bachelorette party with a "large group of girlfriends" Friday night at Cuba Libre when she and a girlfriend headed to the bathroom. That was when Clymer was stopped by a male attendant, who said she must present identification that said "female" before entering the women's restroom.
"When I asked why, he said that 'female' must be on an ID to use the women's restroom. I told him that's nonsense, turned on my heel, and continued into the restroom," Clymer wrote in her Facebook post detailing the encounter, which she called "blatant discrimination."
According to Clymer, the male attendant then followed her into the women's restroom and was "doing everything but opening the stall doors" to get her to leave.
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When Clymer exited the bathroom, she was accosted not only by the male attendant but by Cuba Libre's manager. The manager also demanded to see Clymer's ID, citing the same supposed D.C. law that the attendant believed existed. Clymer told the men multiple times that there was no such law.
As the exchange grew heated, other attendants began to notice, with the hallways becoming increasingly crowded. Clymer said that she could recognize what was happening, but knew that it was important she not back down. "I knew what I was talking about," Clymer told The Washington Post. "I work on [these issues] all the time. But the more insistent he was, the more doubt crept into my mind."
In an effort to collect herself and possibly receive an apology from the manager, Clymer momentarily stepped outside the restaurant, where she was able to pull up the D.C. Human Rights Act on her phone. The law states that "personnel must respect a person's restroom choice based on their gender identification or expression."
When Clymer showed the document to the manager, the man became angrier and insistent that he was right. Instead of apologizing, he refused to believe the document Clymer showed him was real, despite his own failure to produce any evidence of the fake law he and the attendant continued to cite.
The manager then threatened to call the police. When Clymer urged him to do just that, the manager responded by telling her to leave the establishment. While Clymer waited outside with a small group of restaurant patrons standing in solidarity with her, yet another gender-nonbinary person was asked to show their ID before entering the bathroom at Cuba Libre.
"There were two trans/non-binary people in my bachelorette party group. Both of them were aggressively asked to show ID before entering the women's bathroom. I am furious," said Emily Crockett, the woman whose bachelorette party Clymer had been attending, in a tweet on Saturday.
This was the tipping point for Clymer, who ultimately made the decision to call the police. "I went to a place of anger that I do not visit often. Something had to be done. I'm not the kind of person who calls cops, but at that point, I didn't know what else to do," Clymer wrote on Facebook.
When the authorities arrived, Clymer found the law to be on her side, as the police offered nothing but support. "The D.C. police could not have been more professional. They arrived on the scene, were immediately a calming presence, immediately took reports," Clymer told The Washington Post. "I could not have asked for a better experience with the police."
Clymer stressed how vocalizing and sharing her experience on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter led to a positive outcome. She recognized that the result could have been extremely different for someone who was not "white, aware of the law and connected to people who can help."
"My privilege helped me in this situation. Transgender people, esp. people of color, without my privilege are not so fortunate," she stated on Facebook.
Afterward, Cuba Libre issued a statement of apology to Clymer, claiming that the restaurant supports "safe bathrooms and welcome guests of all gender identifications." The statement included a promise to retrain its staff in wake of the incident and a vow from the CEO to reach out to Clymer personally.
The altercation has drawn attention from public figures, with Clymer being commended on social media by public figures such as Chelsea Clinton. On Twitter, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser told Clymer "we won't accept this type of discrimination in Washington, DC. It's not just illegal, it's against all we stand for."
In her Facebook post, Clymer stated a desire to take legal action against Cuba Libre, but refused to comment further until later in the week.
"This is my first bachelorette shindig," Clymer concluded, "and I'm not going to let the transphobic staff of Cuba Libre ruin my weekend.