Monica Roberts

Khadijah Farmer Case Points Out Need For Inclusive ENDA

Filed By Monica Roberts | May 14, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Cliente Cab Company, ENDA, gender identity, justice, Khadijah Farmer, legal, transexual, transgender, transphobia

Khadijah Farmer settled her legal case yesterday, and I hope HRC, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep Barney Frank were paying attention. But I doubt it.

To refresh your memory banks, Projectors, on what happened, we'll set the way back machine to June 24, 2007 and the end of the New York GLBT pride parade.

Khadijah, her partner Joelle Evans and a friend decided to go to the Caliente Cab Company restaurant to grab a bite to eat. When Khadijah went to the restroom, a male bouncer stormed into the women's room after her and ordered her to leave. Despite showing him a New York ID card that identified her as female, he insisted that Farmer leave, then ejected their party from the restaurant.

The interesting thing about this case is that it puts a name and a face to an argument that the transgender community has been making to HRC and Barney for a decade and Lambda Legal backed up with their analysis last year on Barney's non-inclusive ENDA..

The non-transinclusive ENDA had it become law wouldn't have covered Ms Farmer.

Reality check time. There are effeminate looking gay and straight men along with masculine looking straight and lesbian women out there in the real world in addition to us transpeeps. It's why the 'gender or perceived gender' language not only must be in ENDA, it broadens the number of people that it covers and makes it a better bill.

It also makes ENDA an inclusive bill that the entire GLBT community can feel good about working to get passed. It will also garner more votes in Congress than the transgender free one Barney and HRC browbeat into passage last fall and has as much chance of passing the Senate this year as George W. Bush earning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Khadijah's case also highlights one of the major intersections between the transgender, GLB rights movements and our straight allies. Gender expression discrimination can and does affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, gender variant or straight people. It's an issue that we in the GLBT community can use as a coalition builder with our straight allies..

Of course Ms. Farmer is pleased with the settlement. She said, "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. 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."

Khadijah, could you come with us to Washington, DC, and deliver that message to some peeps on Rhode Island Ave who have an equal sign logo and a certain transphobic Massachusetts congressman?


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I'm glad the settlement worked out in Farmer's favor. Good on the Caliente Cab Company too for changing their policies.

I think this is an egg in the face of certain people (cough, cough, John Aravosis) who argued extensively that she should have been kicked out of the restaurant.

I wonder how much homophobia is going for these days...

I think it's useful to point out that the only reason this lawsuit was even possible, let alone successful, is that New York City, unlike New York State, has a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination law. Khadijah Farmer was not booted from the women's restroom and the restaurant because she is a lesbian. Instead, it was solely because the bouncer thought she looked too masculine. Consequently, as Monica points out and as Lambda Legal made clear just a few days before this incident, a sexual orientation-only nondiscrimination ban would have had no impact on this case. Just as discrimination solely on the basis of gender identity or expression can occur in public accomodations, like restaurants, the same thing can and does happen in employment, which is the focus of ENDA.

So, Congressman Frank, how well does the argument you made in response to Lambda Legal's analysis that such cases never happen stand up now?