DC restaurant expels transgender woman who used women’s restroom

Words that imply a gender preference will be removed from the Berkeley's codes and replaced with gender-neutral terms, according a recently adopted ordinance.(Thinkstock )

WASHINGTON — A D.C. restaurant asked a transgender woman for ID when she tried to use the women’s restroom and kicked her out when she refused.

Charlotte Clymer, an activist who works with the Human Rights Campaign, was celebrating a bachelorette party on Friday with friends at Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar in Northwest D.C. when she was stopped by a staff member as she tried to use the women’s restroom.

Clymer said the attendant asked for her ID and when she asked why, he told her that “female” must be on the card in order to use the women’s restroom.

She said no other people in the hallway waiting to use the facilities were asked to show their ID.

Clymer entered a stall and the man followed her in the women’s restroom before eventually leaving.

When she left the restroom, the attendant and the manager told her that according to D.C. law she must have “female” on her ID to use the women’s restroom.

D.C. law does not say that.

Clymer asked the manager to show her which law states that. He refused and threatened to call the police, she said in a tweet.

When she pulled up the actual law on her phone and told him that what he is doing is illegal, she said the manager said “That is incorrect,” and refused to show her what law he was citing and continued to threaten to call police, which Clymer eventually encouraged him to do.

The manager persisted that Clymer leave and the bouncer came up and joined in asking her to leave. After explaining the situation to him, the bouncer grabbed Clymer’s arm and pushed her out of the restaurant.

Clymer called D.C. police. When the officers arrived, she said they told her that she was correct on the law.

Cuba Libre issued a statement expressing its regret for what happened at the restaurant.

The restaurant said that the staff failed to “welcome guests of all gender identifications” and acknowledged that Clymer was treated in an “unacceptable manner.”

Cuba Libre said that it was retraining staff to make sure this incident does not happen again.

Clymer expressed skepticism of Cuba Libre’s statement.

“I wish I could be magnanimous and let this be sufficient, but I can’t,” she wrote on Twitter. “Your manager intentionally made up a fake law to humiliate me, mocked me when I patiently showed him the actual law and acted with condescension and aggression in response.”

In a statement late Monday afternoon, Cuba Libre co-owner Barry Gutin said he was “truly sorry” about the incident. Casa Ruby, a local LGBTQ community center, will be assisting the restaurant with special training and will help Cuba Libre “identify other initiatives that will support the transgender community,” he said. A contribution to Casa Ruby will also be made.

“I pledge that my staff and I will do all that we can do to ensure that such mistreatment does not happen again,” Gutin said.

The incident has attracted a lot of attention on Twitter.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote she was sorry for what happened to Clymer and praised D.C. police for how they handled the situation.

“We won’t accept this type of discrimination in Washington, D.C. It’s not just illegal, it’s against all we stand for,” Bowser tweeted.

Chelsea Clinton expressed her support of Clymer, as well, thanking her for sharing “this painful story.”

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up