The transgender community and its allies are already out in full force against various “bathroom bills” being proposed by GOP-led legislatures, and an anti-LGBTQ/anti-trans platform from the Republican Party. But what if someone was ejected from a gay club because they used the restroom corresponding with the gender they identify with? Unthinkable, right? Since we should be in the fight together? Since it should be a safe haven for all members of the LGBTQ community?


Well it happened. Valentine Steaphon, a 24-year-old genderqueer trans performer in Brooklyn was removed from Boots and Saddles in New York City this past Friday. In a lengthy Facebook post, Steaphon details her experience, including being removed from the bar, despite New York City affirming that its citizens can use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. I spoke with Steaphon to learn more about the incident and what should be done in the future.

valentine3
Matt Jamieson: Take me through the night, leading up to the incident.


Valentine Steaphon: I was in the middle of watching my friend, Princess, perform when I suddenly had the urge to pee. I made my way into the women's restroom and did my business. As soon as I walked out the stall to wash my hands, I look up and there's a woman glaring at me. Next thing I hear is: "You shouldn't be in here, you don't have a pussy." Stunned and shocked at what I was hearing, I tried reminding her that she's in a LGBT establishment and we use the bathrooms accordingly. She didn't care, she screamed at me until I told her to chill out. She ran out the bathroom furiously and demanded security. As I'm walking back to my spot at the bar, I'm stopped by security, her and her gay friend. Security told me I shouldn't have been in there, and scolded me. He then told me that they cater to straight women there, so if they feel uncomfortable, I'm the problem. After this happened, the woman and her gay friend are yelling in my face that I'm not trans - that I'm not a woman because I don't possess a vagina or boobs. While this is happening, I'm so stunned and furious. I'm having to defend myself and my identity while supposed to be an LGBT safe space. While they are screaming transphobic things in my face, I'm saying I am a woman, I am trans, you guys need education. I'm then escorted out the bar.


MJ: In the moment, when she said something to you, what was going through your mind?


VS: When she said what she said, I was mostly stunned. I thought it was a joke at first until I realized she was serious. I felt sad.Just sad that this was happening in such a place.


And even more sad that security jumped to her aid and not mine.


MJ: We’ve seen the bar post their account of the actions that occurred. How has the New York LGBTQ community (and the national community) responded?

 

VS: The community had been so supportive and I'm so appreciative of all the support I'm getting. I felt so alone when this happened and now I feel like I'm not anymore. So many others have experienced what I did and we shouldn't have to, especially in our safe spaces. Apparently similar incidents like mine have happened there before.


MJ: We all know right now that the GOP is advocating for bathrooms corresponding to a person's gender assigned at birth. How does it feel that this happened, like you said, in a supposed safe space?

 

VS: It’s just disturbing, honestly. We're being discriminated against by these outside forces so we try to find safe haven in our LGBT spaces but they turn around and do the same thing. As a community we really need to get our shit together.


MJ: What do you want to happen next?


VS: I want this establishment to educate their staff on gender identities and the NY Laws. I want this to never happen ever again in a LBGT establishment. We should never experience this type of violence in our own homes.

 

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