Alex Blaze

Trans Woman Banned from Hotel for Life for Going to Bathroom

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 27, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Cosmopolitan magazine, las vegas, Nevada, New York, transgender

A woman from New York who was in Las Vegas was banned for life for using the women's room at The Cosmopolitan's bar:

Here's what happened. Stephanie goes to the Cosmo in the early hours of the morning - about 2.30am. She sits down at the Vesper Bar, in the lobby of the hotel, and orders drinks. Her drinks are good, the barman is pleasant, all is well. And then, at 4am, she realizes she needs the bathroom.

She goes, as is her wont, to the women's restroom, just across from the bar. It's empty, as you'd expect at 4am on a Monday. Not a single person in there. She powders her nose and exits the restroom, only to be met by two security guards who immediately say "Come with us" and start marching her out of the hotel. As they walk her, they demand to see her ID (to establish her legal gender). It's in her purse, and she fumbles for it as she's being forcibly marched through the lobby of the hotel. As she fumbles, one of the men tells her to hurry up. She is scared, and starts apologizing, saying she's not trying to cause trouble, but it's hard to walk and look for her ID at the same time.

They march her outside the hotel (the bathroom is near the main entrance) and she finds her ID. One of the guards checks it, establishes that her legal gender is male, and pulls out a yellow form from his pocket and starts writing in her details to the blank spaces. As he does so, he says, "Are you working?" Way to add insult to injury. She doesn't say "Well as it happens, yes I am working, at the conference, douchebag." She says no.

She was presented with a form telling her she can never go back to the hotel:



As a duly appointed representative of the owner of this property, I hereby warn you that you are trespassing on this property as defined by the Nevada Revised Statute 207.200. If you do not leave these premises immediately, you will be subject to arrest for a misdemeanor. Your subsequent return to the premises after being duly warned not to return will subject you to immediate arrest for trespassing.

The Cosmopolitan is owned by Deustche Bank, which has a 100 rating on the Corporate Equality Index, claiming that it has a gender identity inclusive antidiscrimination policy and diversity training for "all employees" that discusses gender identity.

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Update: Hotel Chatter has a full apology from the Cosmopolitan:

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is committed to maintaining a community that recognizes and values the inherent dignity of every person, by fostering sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect of our guests and employees. We sincerely regret any misunderstanding or inappropriate actions that any member eness initiatives [sic]. In addition, we apologize to the individual guest and welcome her back to the resort anytime. Again, we would like to apologize to the LGBT community and anyone concerned and hope to demonstrate our firm dedication to fair and unbiased treatment of all.

What do you all think? To me, the most important things are making it right with the specific woman who was banned for life and making sure this doesn't happen again. I've seen lots of businesses think that just apologizing is enough in my time here at Bilerico, so I'm skeptical.

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Brandigirl | April 27, 2011 6:40 PM

Alex I'm not sure what point it was your trying to make ? Are you trying to point the finger at the finger at HRC because this hotel has a 100% rating on their equality Index ? You do known that Index isn't worth the paper it's written on don't you ? That and $5.00 will get you a latte from Starbucks.

Or are you trying to point out that this person Stephanie was removed from the hotel because they used the womens restroom ?

I think from reading the story the hotel security assumed that 1) because Stephanie is "Transgender" that she's got male parts and 2) that because she's in the bar at 2:30 in the morning she's most likely a hooker, and they don't want hookers cis gendered or trans in their hotel.

I mean if the ID states she's Male then they have ever legal right to remove her from the restroom.

And just out of curiosity what was she doing out at 2:30 in the morning no conference I've ever heard of runs until 2:30 am

Oh Brandi... you miss it every single time don't you?

1) YOU, the security guards, the barman, and myself have no idea if Stephanie is "transgender" or transsexual. Until not very long ago, legally, I had to have an ID that stated my birth sex because my state will not alter birth records and state issues ID pulls from birth certificate data at the DMV.

2) If a bar was not expecting patrons at 2:30 AM why would it be open? Why should accessing an entertainment venue during normal hours of operation in a vacation destination that is built on the fact that people go there largely because of their alcohol and drinking laws.

laughrioTgirl No I didn't miss "it" as you put it and believe most Transgender and some Transsexual DON"T PASS it's not hard to pick them out of a crowd, so I'm sure the barman had no problem reading her and reporting it to the security guys.

I think you missed it if you read the story the place was DEAD not another soul in the place, so this wasn't the busy hour of the day or night. So my questions remains what was she doing out and about at 2:30 in the morning ?

Regardless the resort has issued an apology and said she's welcome back anytime.

Kathy Padilla | April 28, 2011 9:12 AM

"So my questions remains what was she doing out and about at 2:30 in the morning ?"

And on a school night! I mean - that town rolls up the sidewalks at 9:00pm.

Heli Hämäläinen | April 27, 2011 11:48 PM

I have a passport with a gender marker M but I have female genitalia. That is because Finland does not want to recognize me as a female because of our marriage. WTF is the legal gender in this context? What do you want? Gender Polizei?

At the last out-of-state business event I went to, my assigned roommate was out until 5 am in the hotel bar, drinking up and doing karaoke. And she wasn't the only one from our group there that late.

Exciting news: Adult women don't need permission to stay up late.

I've written about the CEI's problems quite a few times before. One of the advantages blogging has over writing a book is that you can hit home the same point with new examples all the time.

I'm guessing the security guard had no idea what parts she had, and neither do I. Neither do you, for that matter. It's unimportant - when people are at bars they're often in need of a bathroom and unless the security guard has a camera in each stall to check out what everyone has, they really can't enforce a policy based on genitalia.

She wasn't a sex worker. According to the post I linked above, she was in Vegas for a conference. Sometimes grown-ups stay up past bedtime even if they aren't doing sex work. I've been to conferences before and know that the actual content of the conference is about the tenth or eleventh highest priority for the people who attend.

Her story doesn't seem at all suspicious.

The Ogress | April 28, 2011 7:19 AM

Seriously, you're slut-shaming the victim?

She was up at the bar at 230 am because she damn well wanted to be. It was open, she went there. She doesn't need to explain her presence in the bar because she's an adult.

Looks like it's time for a good old fashioned pee-in!

Deustche Bank may have a 100 rating, but its kind of obvious that the hotel does not share Deustche Bank's policy's.

Sadly, thats one thing I have found is a major weakness with HRC CEI's ratings. The corporation will say all of its branches are compliant but rarely do you really find that to be factually true.

The CEI rating is for the employer - in this case DeutscheBank. It is not transferable to the hotel.

I SO don't get this. Just what is the US obsession with toilets and the gender binary?

Sure: men, mostly, have been known to go into toilets as a means to pry, peek and abuse. But on the whole, they don't do so disguised as women. In fact, being disguised as a woman is pretty noticeable (as well as making a getaway difficult if you're daft enough to wear heels).

There are issues over here in the UK, in Europe. But on the whole we just don't seem to obsess the way those in the States do. Why? Genuine ask.

Is it some hang-ups about being overheard whilst tinkling? Or is it that there is some US cross-over between toilets and sex that we just don't get.

Speaking as someone with legal protection when i decide to go to the loo or use a gender appropriate changing room, i just can't even begin to get my head around how this works.


Crista Galli | April 27, 2011 9:49 PM

Jane, I think it has to do with our obsession with sex in general, and with pretending we're not obsessed with sex. Some states actually say that being naked in front of your kids is abuse, as if our bodies were somehow harmful. New England was founded by Puritans, and their descendants got over it (Vermont doesn't even have laws about public nudity), but the rest of the country is way behind.

I heard about this on Twitter this morning and have already contacted Glen Fishman at TAG, the gay friendly hotel grading service which The Cosmopolitan is a member of. Glen responded that he hadn't been aware of the incident until I brought it to his attention and that their endorsement of The Cosmopolitan will be immediately suspended pending full investigation of this incident.

Great! They clearly don't have any training (or really bad training) for employees on this issue unless the security guard was going rogue, which it really doesn't sound like he did. They don't deserve a good rating from LGBT rating services.

Sad. I was really looking forward to visiting that hotel on my next trip to Vegas. What they did was totally wrong, though.

this is horrifically offensive. I can't believe it.

That's absolutely disgusting regardless to being born female or male if your identifying your self as the sex you wish too be there should be no problem going into an EMPTY or full restroom clearly the woman in question was not out too cause problems simply too use the facilities in which she payed to use anyway. People these days need to realise times have changed people are and should be accepted for who they wish too be

Repost widely and make them re-earn that rating with a profuse apology and reassessment of their employee training and policies! This is abhorrent!

Wow, i am female, and have used the mens room many times, as sometimes the ladies room is so full and lines are long. What a crock of shit, and why as "are you working"?. Put on my list of places not to visit.

LOL. I've seen women use the men's room in the US. In France, a lot of toilets are unisex just because there isn't enough space to separate (plus people care a lot less).

Not a big deal.

Yeah, most places won't care if a woman does this. Try it as a man and you might end up on some registry.

Thank you Desiree

According to TAG, The Cosmopolitan has seven days to respond to the reported incident; if they don't respond to TAG's satisfaction, their TAG endorsement is permanently revoked. Well, permanently until they change their policies to re-earn it.

Here's the PR email for the Cosmo.
I'm going to send them an email stating that they need to figure out a way that this kind of discrimination doesn't happen again.
If they're committed to having 'cis only' bathrooms, maybe they could have well accessible individual bathrooms for everybody.
I know it is not ideal to create a sense of marginalization but it may be a step towards better and more just service. I think a lot of our nation's businesses are way behind on how to best serve their trans clients/patrons.

Ryan McGivern

There is an update on the Hotel Chatter article about this incident:

UPDATE: The Cosmopolitan has released a lengthier statement on the incident.

"The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is committed to maintaining a community that recognizes and values the inherent dignity of every person, by fostering sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect of our guests and employees. We sincerely regret any misunderstanding or inappropriate actions that any member eness initiatives. In addition, we apologize to the individual guest and welcome her back to the resort anytime. Again, we would like to apologize to the LGBT community and anyone concerned and hope to demonstrate our firm dedication to fair and unbiased treatment of all." - The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Thanks for letting me know. I updated.

It's worth pointing out that the "apology" is nothing more than standard corporate public relations boilerplate.

Especially considering that they refer to her as an "individual guest" -- hotels define guest as "person who is staying at the hotel", which doesn't apply to the woman in this case. That makes it obnoxiously clear that this is nothing more than a standard form letter for, "Ooops, we offended someone."

Those security guards were a couple of Deutsche bags.

I looked up the statute, and it appears that the hotel mis-applied it. The statute says that a person can be considered trespassing if they present a nuisance to the property owner. It further states that someone must be asked to leave. If they don't, then they are trespassing. She needs to get an attorney, or maybe the ACLU.

Themiscyra | April 28, 2011 1:54 PM

Las Vegas casino resorts can generally ban someone from the premises for any reason at all.

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Anyone should be able to use a Gender appropriate restroom.(Appropriate to their Gender presentation)2:30am or 2:30 in the afternoon. Only a Doctor has any right to determine your birth gender. Rent-A-Cops at 2:30? What rock do these Neanderthals keep crawling out from? The more the Trans community complains and publisizes these incidents, the better companies will keep us safe and able to use the proper facilities!

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | April 28, 2011 5:39 AM

The apology is a nice gesture, but what happened to a free stay next time to make up for the humiliation (and the lack of accommodation that night)? What happened to firing the grossly inappropriate staff? What happened to retraining the other staff at this and at other locations? As it stands, the apology is a nice gesture, but the learning curve is not evident enough for my taste!

california panda | April 28, 2011 6:37 AM

There is no "learning curve" here. They welcome her back? They should pay her a month's salary for each of the guards that violated her rights. The guards should be reassigned to cleaning the urinals and toilets in every restroom in the place. The staff and management should undergo complete anti-discrimination training. Their LGBT Equality rating needs to tank until such time as an inspection can be done to insure they are living up to their workds. None of that is mentioned. The apology that doesn't contain corrective action for the mistake isn't an apology it's simply damage control.

"Are you working" is code for "are you a working prostitute"? The assumption by people, especially in places like Las Vegas, is that any nicely dressed transwoman must be a prostitute.

I don't see where the two "security guards" were summarily fired, so no. Not good enough.

If she had female on her driver's license would she have had a problem? My driver's license shows female but I am not sure if that actually would protect me. If security asked her for her license and it had female, I am wondering if she would have still had a problem or not. At the minimum, she should at least have a "bathroom pass" from her doctor.

I doubt it would have protected her; my bet is that they were already set on the action and merely wanted some way to give it the veneer of being legal and justified.

Regan DuCasse | April 28, 2011 1:24 PM

Only women, gays and lesbians, and the transgendered are asked what they were doing in places and at times that straight men can frequent no questions asked.

Which is stupid and contradictory because it's the straight male demographic that endangers all the others.
Security guards this dumb, and hell bent on humiliating a trans woman, DON'T deserve to have their jobs, considering the aforementioned fact.

Angela Brightfeather | April 28, 2011 4:33 PM

I don't blame the security guards because underneath it all your going to find someone who told them to do this (night manager)and actually ordered the insult to take place as it did for a reason.

In Las Vegas, do any of the bars in the convention hotels EVER shut down? I think they run 24/7, so being in one at 2:30 is not a big deal.

If I had to bet, I would say that some very bored evening staff who thought it might be humorous to create some excitement while also thinking that it would make a good story for the day crew, decided they would break the boredom with a little hastling of someone they thought they could successfully intimidate and take advantage of.

The owner's concern should not be for this one individual in particular, but for anyone that might be a vulnerable minority and considered as such by the bigot that initiated this. Because if they don't like Transwomen, then they don't like gays or lesbians, and you can throw in people of color or different ethnicity, with a slight sprinkling of physically challenged to boot. A bigot is a bigot and they will act like a bully as long as they think they can get away with it.

They should fire the night manager on duty, tell the security guards that their working for the next month cleaning out the toilets on the 12th hole of their golf course all night long and ask the bartender why he didn't stop them from acting like A-holes. Then they should write a letter to every employee and let them know what they decided to do and that if they don't get their collective heads on right in the future, they can go work for the old night manager at another location.

Finally, they should offer to host a the monthly meetings for a local Transgender support group for the next year since many Trans support groups lack a decent or safe place to meet most of the time or have to meet in church basement or just gay friendly venues.

After such an insult - who in the hell in their right mind would want to be at Cosmo - Even their hiring practices are in question. So if you ask me, Cosmo done her a bit of Justice for it's not all everyone think it is anyway. Hell my company took place in helping to build it and they're just as bad.

beachcomberT | May 19, 2011 6:24 AM

Isn't the common-sense solution to allow a customer to use whichever bathroom comes close to matching her/his clothing and presentation? A trans woman entering a woman's restroom certainly seems less disruptive than her entering a men's room, which would have the risk of being misinterpreted as soliciting. By the way, a large hotel also should have a private restroom available.

How about educating men that some men wear dresses and should leave them alone in the bathroom?