It’s not just North Carolina anymore, as a security guard at a Giant has recently been charged with assault for forcibly removing a transgender woman from the supermarket chain’s bathroom — and in one of the nation’s most liberal cities, no less.
Ebony Belcher was at a Giant location in northeast Washington D.C. with a friend who needed to pick up a delivery from the in-store Western Union. Belcher, who is transgender, needed to use the restroom, so she walked across the store to the women’s room, passing a female security guard on the way. After she entered, though, the guard (who has not been identified) came in and demanded she leave, saying things like “I know you are a man” and “you guys cannot keep coming in here and using our women’s restroom.” The guard then forcibly grabbed and pushed Belcher, who sometimes has difficulty walking due to Parkinson’s Disease, out of the restroom.
Belcher very understandably refers to the situation as “deeply humiliating.” The guard has been charged with assault, and the police report lists it as a suspected hate crime. Giant has issued an apology, saying that the guard “acted inappropriately” and also being sure to clarify that the guard works for a security firm contracted by the company rather than for the company itself. In short, Giant has issued the most milquetoast-y and buck-passing apology possible (a huge advantage of hiring outside vendors is that you don’t have to be accountable for their actions).
The irony is that something like this isn’t happening in North Carolina, home of HB2, the recent/extremely controversial transgender bathroom law. Instead, it’s happening in the nation’s capital, the fourth most-liberal city in America. No similar law to HB2 has passed in D.C.; in fact, the city even has a law on the books that all single-stall restrooms must be gender-neutral, a law that exists specifically to protect the privacy of transgender individuals. It’s an important reminder than anti-LGBT ugliness can show up anywhere, not just in places people tend to associate with repressiveness and bigotry.