A Washington DC Cuban restaurant has been fined $7,000 for demanding a transgender woman show ID before using the ladies’ restroom.
Workers at a restaurant called Cuba Libre in the capital asked Charlotte Clymer for identification in June 2018 when she tried to use a women’s bathroom, then followed her inside and told her to leave.
Writing in a Twitter thread that has gone viral, Charlotte explained how when she went to use the restroom in the establishment, she was physically stopped by an attendant who demanded her ID to prove it said ‘female’.
Charlotte Clymer, a transgender woman and activist with the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ equality, was asked to show identification June 22 when she tried to use a women’s restroom at Cuba Libre, a downtown Cuban restaurant and rum bar
Thread time: She took to Twitter to share her account of what happened at the restaurant
Noteworthy: Her June 2018 story about the Cuban restaurant and bar has since gone viral
When she refused to hand it over, citing a law that says this action was illegal, she was followed into the bathroom and eventually escorted out of the restaurant by force.
Clymer’s complaint see Cuba Libre pay a $7,000 penalty to the District for violating the act. The restaurant must also train staff on D.C. laws regarding gender identity and post signs that ‘all individuals are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression’
The restaurant later apologized and says it has complied with requirements to train staff on district law and post signs saying people can use bathrooms aligning with their gender identity.
Cuba said in a statement that the restaurant performed the training and signage requirements, and also plans to offer training open to all D.C.-area restaurant employees to ‘help understand the challenges of the LGBTQ community.’
Along with the $7,000 penalty to the District for violating the act, the restaurant must also train staff on D.C. laws regarding gender identity and post signs that ‘all individuals are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity or expression,’
Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said that the District has settled with Cuba Libre over the violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression in public accommodations.
Stop: After some time, she went to use the women’s restroom — which is when a male attendant blocked her and demanded to see her ID
Charlotte used the bathroom anyway, but says a man followed her in to look for her
Clymer called the settlement which sees the restaurant pay a $7,000 fine ‘a great outcome’
During the June incident, Clymer showed restaurant managers a government fact sheet which details the District Requirements in Public Accommodations — Gender Identity and Expression and references the DC Human Rights Act.
It reads: ‘District law requires two things with regard to access to public facilities: (1) single-occupancy bathrooms must be gender-neutral; and (2) facility managers and personnel must respect a person’s restroom choice based on their gender identification or expression.’
It further explains: ‘For instance, if an individual, who identifies or presents themselves as a woman, wishes to use the Women’s restroom, they must be permitted to do so even if the individual were to be perceived differently. Thus, under District laws, denying access to any restroom, or other gender specific facility that is consistent with a person’s gender identity or expression, is unlawful.’
At the time, Charlotte documented her ordeal in detail in a lengthy Twitter thread.
‘I was told by the manager of @CubaLibreDC that I couldn’t use the women’s restroom, and after challenging his discrimination with D.C. law and responding to his threat of calling the police w/ ‘please do so’, I was forcibly removed from the restaurant,’ Charlotte began.
Making a scene: The manager insisted she have ID and told her she would make women uncomfortable
Despite Charlotte showing him proof, the manager dismissed her and talked down to her
The man was dismissive and rude but couldn’t counter her claim with a different law
Though they threatened to call the cops at first, Charlotte called their bluff — and then the restaurant wouldn’t call the police, even though she wanted them to
Cuba Libre said in a statement that the restaurant performed the training and signage requirements, and also plans to offer training open to all D.C.-area restaurant employees to ‘help understand the challenges of the LGBTQ community’
‘Near the end our time there, I went to use the restroom with my friend and before I reached the door, an attendant stuck out his arm and said he needed to see my ID. When I asked why, he said that ‘female’ must be on an ID to use the women’s restroom. No one else was asked.
‘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.
‘I go into a stall to do my business, and I hear him walk in and search for me in this busy restroom full of women. He is doing everything but opening the stall doors. I ignore him, and after a few moments, he leaves. I do my business, wash my hands, and walk out.
‘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.
Awful: However, on that night, she was nearly brought to tears
Kindness: However, she said, there were strangers at the restaurant who came to her aid
Reinforcements: Finally, Charlotte felt compelled to call the police for help
Getting it down: Two patrol cars came and took statements
‘He insists I need to show my ID, I tell him that’s not happening, and demand to see what law he’s citing. He refuses to show me the law and instead says, ‘You being in there will make women uncomfortable.’ We’re in the way of everyone, and a lot of people are watching this.
‘I was angry and needed to cool off, so I again refuse to show him my ID and walked out of the restaurant to get my bearings. I brought up D.C.’s law regarding restrooms on my phone and walked in, straight to him, to show him how this is illegal.’
Discrimination: Charlotte Clymer, a transgender US Army veteran, was enjoying a friend’s bachelorette party at Cuba Libre in Washington, D.C. when the fun was brought to a halt
‘He treated me like I was being irrational, glanced over the text and said ‘that’s incorrect’. He continued to refuse to show this imaginary law he was citing and threatened to call the cops. I told him he should absolutely call the cops. Please do. He then said I need to leave.
‘I told him I work for the Human Rights Campaign, he’s making a mistake here, and he needs to adjust his course of action. I told him this is discrimination and said he’s being a bigot. He laughed and mocked my workplace. ‘Oh, I know you folks at [address].’
‘He continued to ask me to leave. I told him I’m not going anywhere until the cops are called. For several minutes near the front door, this manager continued to refuse to call the cops, his original threat, and said I need to leave.
She said the police officers were ‘patient and kind’ and brought in DC’s LGBTQ liaison unit
Pronouns: Charlotte was also please with how this unit treated her
Charlotte says she was told that there would be investigations of the restaurant
‘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.
‘I stood there at the curb with a friend, feeling shattered. I wanted to cry, but my adrenaline was so high at that point that I felt blocked up. Our other friends came out along with several people who had witnessed what happened.’
Charlotte said a ‘wonderful person’ named Nicole López came to speak to her. She was there with her boyfriend Edgar, a staffer for Congresswoman Norma Torres of California’s 35th congressional district.
Edgar offered help, and he and Nicole told the rest of their group — many of whom also left the restaurant.
Despite the horrible night, she was touched by how supportive strangers were
Sorry: Cuba Libre has released a statement apologizing and has tried to get into contact with Charlotte directly
‘By now, all my friends were outside, and one mentioned that she had seen a non-binary person get asked for their ID almost immediately following what happened to me. And at that point, I went to a place of anger that I do not visit often. Something had to be done,’ Charlotte said.
Though she insists she isn’t ‘the kind of person who calls cops,’ Charlotte decided something had to be done and phoned the police. Within minutes, she said, police officers arrived to take statements.
‘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 LGBTQ liaison’s first question after introducing themselves was: ‘Hi Charlotte, may I ask for your pronouns?’ They took statements, gave my friends and I space to process this (mostly my friends trying to offer humor and hugs), and fully debriefed me on my rights.
‘I’m told @CubaLibreDC will face investigations by the city’s licensing authority and the D.C. Office of Human Rights, the latter which I have to initiate using the police report that will on file. The officers told me I had a very strong case.
She wet on to thanks the DC Police department, who ‘responded with professionalism and compassion,’ as well as strangers who came to her aid. She also noted that despite being discriminated against, she was lucky enough to be white, which may have prevented things from getting worse.
‘My privilege helped me in this situation. Transgender people, esp. people of color, without my privilege are not so fortunate.,’ she said.
Cuba Libre has responded publicly to the controversy and apologized in a statement.
‘We are extremely sorry for the incident that occurred at our restaurant last night,’ they wrote. ‘As a rule, we support safe bathrooms and welcome guests of all gender identifications. Clearly our staff did not do so and treated you in an unacceptable manner. We are immediately retraining our entire staff to ensure this does not happen again.’