WASHINGTON - A popular D.C. restaurant is at the center of controversy after a transgender woman says she was kicked out by staff for trying to use the women's bathroom.
Charlotte Clymer, a communications person for the Human Rights Campaign, took to Twitter after she was physically removed from Cuba Libre Rum Bar and Restaurant, where she was celebrating a friend's bachelorette party. She says it happened after she went to use the women's bathroom.
I was there w/ a large group of girlfriends. We're having a bachelorette weekend for my good friend @emilycrockett, and first on our list was a dance party being held at @CubaLibreDC. Everyone had a great time. Lots of dancing and drinking and hanging out with great people.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
Clymer tweeted that as she was about to go into the restroom, a staff member stopped her and asked to see her ID, saying it is D.C. law to have "female" on her ID to use the women's restroom.
Clymer says she went into the restroom and entered a stall anyway, but a male staff member came in after her.
After using the facilities, Clymer says she was confronted by managers who again asked for her ID. She refused and showed staff members documentation on D.C. protections for transgender people using public restrooms.
This is a packed hallway in a packed club/restaurant, and this random staff person specifically picks me out to ask for ID. I told him that's nonsense, turned on my heel, and continued into the restroom. My friend is telling him that he's making a mistake.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
On the other side of the door are the attendant and the manager, who says it's D.C. law that you must have "female" on your ID to use the women's restroom. I tell him he's wrong and there's no chance I'm showing him my ID. There are people crammed into this hallway. It's busy.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
She said management staff would not listen to her and when she told them to call the police, they refused and she was physically removed by a bouncer.
A bouncer came up and said I need to be reasonable. I told him the situation and said I would not be leaving until the cops are called. No chance. I explained the law to him, and he continued his condescending plea for me to leave. He then grabbed my arm and pushed me out.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
Clymer says she was consoled by friends and other people who had seen the event in the restaurant, and made the decision to call police.
I'm not the kind of person who calls cops, but at that point, I didn't know what else to do. In D.C., a city celebrated for its LGBTQ culture, inclusivity, and protections, it stunned me that a business could so openly discriminate against transgender people.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
"I could not have asked for a more professional and affirming experience from
@DCPoliceDept. The responding officers--all cisgender men--were patient and kind in their communication, assured me I was right on the law, and radioed for their LGBTQ liaison unit to respond."
The Penn Quarter restaurant and bar responded and issued an apology in a statement saying: "We are extremely sorry for the incident that occurred at our restaurant last night. As a rule, we support safe bathrooms and welcome guests of all gender identifications. Clearly our staff did not do so last night and treated you in an unacceptable manner."
Cuba Libre says they plan to immediately re-train their entire staff to ensure this does not happen again.
However, Clymer responded, "I am wholly unconvinced that 'training' will address the shortcomings in the character of your manager. His callousness and bigotry far exceeded a simple lack of understanding. He was intentional in his discrimination. This person did not act in good faith."
She went on to say, "Your manager did not attempt to make amends last night. If he had walked over and given an apology after the police confirmed for him our city's laws, maybe we'd be okay. But instead, he lied to the police and refused to make things right. He acted liked a child."
.@CubaLibreDC Your manager did not attempt to make amends last night. If he had walked over and given an apology after the police confirmed for him our city's laws, maybe we'd be okay. But instead, he lied to the police and refused to make things right. He acted liked a child.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
I am so disturbed that @cmclymer, a dear friend and colleague of mine, had to go through this last night. No one should. I am perpetually inspired by her ability to turn terrible situations into teachable moments, moments of action, and points of progress. Love you, Charlotte. https://t.co/p5MBes08LD— Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) June 23, 2018
I am so sorry Charlotte this happened. Not remotely a reflection on you. Thank you for sharing this painful story. As ever, your grace and bravery shine through. Hope you have a great rest of the weekend with your girlfriends.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 23, 2018
Bowser took to Twitter addressing the incident: "I'm so sorry this happened to you. While I'm glad to hear that DC police were there to represent our true DC values, we won't accept this type of discrimination in Washington, DC. It’s not just illegal, it’s against all we stand for."
.@cmclymer, I’m so sorry this happened to you. While I’m glad to hear that @DCPoliceDept were there to represent our true #DCValues, we won’t accept this type of discrimination in Washington, DC. It’s not just illegal, it’s against all we stand for. https://t.co/UAzUP9wlSS— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 23, 2018
Clymer said that she said that other trans people may not have seen the same response in her situation.
"I have quite a bit of privilege as a white person. Things turned out well for me," she said.
She said to FOX 5, "My grave concern here is how transgender people without the privilege I have would be able to negotiate situations like it, particularly women of color... How would it have worked out for a woman of color? Not as good, I assume."
I think it's also worth noting that things might have gone very differently if I were 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.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
Clymer tells FOX 5 this isn't the end of the road. She says she plans to file a claim with the D.C. Office of the HRC on Monday.
On Monday, I will begin pursuing all available legal options against @CubaLibreDC. If the manager had apologized when I showed him the law and committed to doing better, I'd still be angry, but we wouldn't be here. He didn't do that. He did the exact opposite.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 23, 2018
To read Clymer's full story, you can read the thread on her Twitter page.