The management of London, Ontario’s Trail’s End Farmers Market is drawing bad press and facing a potential human rights complaint after they told a vendor she had to fire a transgender employee because “those people” aren’t part of their “family-friendly” atmosphere.
Karen Clarke, owner of True 2 You, which sells candles and aromatherapy oils, left her stall at the Dundas Street market on a recent Saturday afternoon with Dani Dominick, a trans woman and one of her best workers, in charge….“He said it made everyone uncomfortable and it just wasn’t right. This is a family place, a family market and this just isn’t right. I just kept insisting what happened that was wrong and he said you walk up to the person and they’re dressed like a woman and they’ve got big hands, a deep voice and tattoos and it’s just not right. It’s just not a family place he kept repeating that over and over again. And I kept trying to get from him what was wrong, what was so not right, what was it that people were complaining about and there was no details forthcoming that way. He called them ‘those people’ several times.”
Manager Ed Kikkert says he wasn’t being discriminatory, but his attempt at a defence to AM980 only dug him in deeper (You can listen to AM 980s full interviews with Dominick, Clarke, and Kikkert here).
“The issue was there was three men in that booth dressed up as women,” he said, “Why would I be discriminating? I’m not discriminating at all. I’m just asking which washroom would they use? How can you go into a men’s washroom dressed as a lady, how can you go into ladies washroom when you’re a man. That’s the difficulty I have. It’s not discriminating at all.” What is it with “these people” (by that I mean transphobic business owners and politicians) and their fixation on bathrooms?
Ok. Let’s take a look at the definition of “discriminate” and make a ruling on that. According to Merriam-Webster, to discriminate is to “to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit.” Clearly Kikkert did discriminate. His objection against Dominick was based on her identity as a trans person, not on an individual characteristic.
Right now Dominick and Clarke are the ones paying the price – both emotionally and financially – for Kikkert’s bigotry. Dominick is in no way a man dressed as a woman; she is a woman and has the right to use public women’s washrooms just like any cis-woman at the farmers market. This incident is exactly the kind of reason we need a law that will put trans people’s human rights protection on the books.
Photo via Flickr by Juicyverve