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Yet another case spotlights need for laws protecting transgender people from discrimination

April 16, 2013

A recent incident involving an Idaho supermarket that banned a transgender woman for using its restroom and charged her with trespassing once again spotlights the critical need for laws barring this type of discrimination.

The grocery store charged Ally Robledo, a transgender woman, with trespassing charges for using the women’s restroom, and then banned her from the store for up to a year. Store employees felt that the public was becoming uncomfortable with Robledo’s use of the women’s room, according to Lewiston, Idaho police captain, Roger Lanier, who further said:

A male subject who was using the female restroom, and that made some women customers uncomfortable because of the appearance that a male was using their restroom.

The store employees didn’t want any further problems, and they chose to exercise their right to trespass this individual from the business. Anyone who owns or controls their property can make that decision. Ally Robledo has been banned from shopping at the grocery store for up to a year.

Without a law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people, the store’s actions are likely completely legal. Fortunately, in 45% of the country, there are state or local laws that ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression that would make this type of discrimination illegal. The Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project continues to advocate for laws at the local and state level that ban this type of discrimination.

“Transgender people have the same needs and deserve the same access to public stores and facilities as others without discrimination based on who they are,” Robledo commented. “They just need to go to the bathroom like everyone else.”

We at the Task Force understand that when people’s appearances don’t meet society’s expectations of men or women, they face the possibility of discrimination in public spaces, including bathrooms and locker rooms. We will continue to advocate for better laws, but we urge all businesses to voluntarily ensure that transgender people feel safe in the restroom that matches their gender identity, and that businesses further consider declaring all restrooms available for all. If you’ve ever experienced this type of discrimination, please share your story here, so that we can help advocate for better policies.

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