A trans woman claims that she was harassed and discriminated against in recent weeks when she tried to use the women's restroom at SoMa nightclub Holy Cow. This was not on one of the LGBT-popular Honey Soundsystem Sundays (now over as of last month), but on a Thursday night, and Lily Lambda is not taking things lying down.
On her blog, Lily describes the evening in question, in which she had been with a friend at The Eagle and then decided to walk into Holy Cow on the way to the Powerhouse. She describes the situation thusly:
After dancing for a while I stripped down to my usual skimpy leather top. Yeah, it accents the breasts. It’s hot. I was immediately told by a guard that I had to put my vest back on. That surprised me, since I’ve worn that exact top in there several times before. Still, I had no issue putting it back on. They’re entitled to enforce a dress code, and I had no evidence that they were selectively enforcing it against me. I brushed off the guard’s rude treatment, put my vest on, and kept dancing. I only bring this up to demonstrate that the security guards were absolutely clear that I was presenting in typical women’s attire.
After dancing for a while we decided to continue on toward Powerhouse. I wanted to use the restroom at Holy Cow first. I proceeded to the women’s restroom, the only restroom I ever use since transitioning. I asked my friend to come in with me — it was a multi-stall restroom — because I was afraid of problems from the guard that had hassled me earlier. Sure enough, within a minute of entering I heard a man holler “YO!” at the top of his lungs. I feared the worst, but hoped it was nothing.
As I was finishing washing my hands, but before my friend reached the door, the door opened, pushed by a male security guard and a female employee. He immediately began to tell us that I have to leave, it is the women’s restroom, etc.
You can see where this is going. Despite Lily's protestations, the guard repeatedly said she had to use the unisex bathroom, or the men's bathroom. "I told him I had no intention of using anything but the women’s restroom." The first guard was then joined by two other guards, all of whom wanted to physically remove Lily and her friend. Lily called the police, and received some harassment from them as well, but then asked the police to escort them to the coat check and out to the street.
Under city law, Lily is quite correct, this type of discrimination is illegal. However, in a straight club, it's probably not unreasonable to expect that trans people might not always be treated with respect, by other patrons or staff, because this is the ignorant world we live in.
That being said, the current owner of the club (it's up for sale) made the mistake of trying to talk his way out of the situation saying the guards didn't do anything wrong. He asked if they even knew she was trans, saying, "After all, you look like a guy."
On November 4, Lily mailed a formal complaint to the venue, and is awaiting reply, and possibly help from the Transgender Law Center. She has not indicated that she's seeking any monetary damages, but perhaps just a formal apology.