Tuesday, May 13, 2008
TLDEF Settles Landmark Farmer v. Caliente Cab Restaurant Lawsuit
I've talked from time to time about Khadijah Farmer, and I've received word from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund that there's been a settlement in the case. The New York based TLDEF has been diligently working on her landmark lawsuit against Caliente Cab Restaurant Company.
As part of the settlement, Caliente has agreed to:
*Add gender, including gender identity and expression, to its corporate non-discrimination policy;
*Amend its employee handbook to state that "persons patronizing or employed at Caliente have the right to use the bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity and expression;"
*Adopt a gender-neutral dress code for its employees;
*Institute personnel training programs regarding its new policies;
*Pay $35,000 in damages to Khadijah.
Just to refresh 'errbody's' memory banks about what happened, after the conclusion of the New York GLBT Pride March on June 24, 2007, Khadijah, her girlfriend and another friend went to dine at the Caliente Cab restaurant.
When Khadijah went to use the women's restroom, the restaurant's bouncer followed her in, pounded on the door of the stall she was using and proceeded to throw her out of the bathroom and the restaurant because of the bouncer's misguided perception because of her short haircut that she was either male or transgender. (are you listening HRC and Barney Frank?) She attempted to show him her NY state ID demonstrating that she is female, but was rebuffed.
This was a crystal clear example of why we transpeople have been arguing ad nauseum for over a decade that 'gender or perceived gender' language needs to remain in ENDA in order to protect ALL members of the GLBT community. Many transgender and gender non-conforming people experience harassment and discrimination when trying to access sex-segregated facilities such as bathrooms.
Khadijah's case highlights one of the major intersections between the transgender, GLB rights movements and our straight allies. Gender expression discrimination can affect anyone, be they transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual or straight. The settlement also sends a message that discrimination on the basis of gender expression will not be tolerated.
"I'm very happy that the restaurant has taken appropriate steps to ensure that all patrons, regardless of how masculine or feminine they appear, are treated with dignity and respect," Khadijah said of the settlement. "People come in all shapes and sizes, and they shouldn't be discriminated against because they don't match someone's expectations of how masculine or feminine they should be."
Amen, sister. Now only if the Homosexual Rights Corporation and a certain congressman from Massachusetts would remember that and introduce an ENDA bill that not only protects everyone, the entire GLBT community can work together to get passed.