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D.C., Rehoboth officials misgender trans women

Sgt. Hawkins among those told to use men’s facilities

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Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade
Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade, misgender trans women

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In separate incidents that activists say they hope were rare occurrences, city government employees in D.C. and Rehoboth Beach, Del., during the past week directed transgender women to use the men’s bathroom or locker room at a public facility.

In the D.C. case, an employee of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation told several trans women entering the city’s Banneker Pool on Georgia Avenue, N.W., on July 1 that they needed to access the pool through the men’s locker room, according to an account of the incident by the local online news blog dcist.

Among the trans women asked to use the men’s locker room, dcist reported, was D.C. police Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, who serves as supervisor for the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit. Rebecca Kling, an official with the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the trans people came to the pool to participate in the second annual D.C. Trans Pool Party that Kling organized.

Kling said she didn’t directly witness a female desk clerk at the pool asking the trans women to use the men’s locker room and who reportedly addressed Sgt. Hawkins as “sir.” But Kling said she spoke to several people who informed her of that taking place.

Kling noted that once she brought the matter to the attention of the manager of the Banneker Pool he immediately assigned another employee to the front desk and that employee treated the trans visitors with respect and had no objections to their using the locker room that matched their gender identity – the women’s locker room.

Kling and transgender advocate Ruby Corado also noted that the “misgendering” by the pool employee of the trans women marked the second year in a row in which attendees of the annual Trans Pool Party were treated improperly by a DPR employee assigned to work at the Banneker Pool.

DPR officials responded to last year’s incident by promising to provide additional training for all DPR employees on LGBT-related issues, including the fact that the D.C. Human Rights Act bans discrimination against LGBT people. The Human Rights Act, among other things, requires that transgender people be allowed to use public bathrooms or other facilities, including locker rooms, that match their gender identity.

“As far as trans persons being mistreated, as far as I could see once everyone got into the pool everyone had a great time and everyone was treated appropriately,” Kling told the Blade in discussing this year’s Trans Pool Party on July 1.

“We take all concerns seriously and we address them immediately,” DPR spokesperson Gwen Crump said in a statement. “DPR has and will continue to train employees regarding sensitivity to LGBTQ guests,” she said, adding, “[W]e want every DPR facility to be a welcoming experience for all guests.”

In the Rehoboth Beach incident, Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks told the Blade a female transgender visitor called police in the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, to report being mistreated by a city attendant working at one of the public bathrooms located next to a bandstand near the boardwalk.

Similar to the D.C. pool incident, Banks said the trans visitor complained to police officers who arrived on the scene that the attendant directed her to use the men’s bathroom instead of the women’s bathroom, a development that violates Delaware’s human rights law. The Delaware human rights law, similar to D.C.’s law, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and allows trans people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Steve Elkins, president of CAMP Rehoboth, an LGBT community center, said Banks invited him to attend a meeting on Monday with him, the Rehoboth city manager, and other city officials to discuss the bathroom incident. Among other things, Elkins said City Manager Sharon Lynn, who’s a lesbian, said she would arrange for city employees to be briefed on the state human rights law and its application to issues affecting transgender people.

“The police acted appropriately in the way they handled this,” Elkins said. “The bathroom attendant is being counseled.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chloe Alexa

    July 13, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    This is the home of the United States government, and where the Constitution of these United States should be respected, along with the Bill Of Rights it contains. Here with our country coming to it’s 241st year this July. It’s sad that even today people are ignorant of what it states, and gives no thought, of what it promised to all of US. The simple phrase that “All Men are Created Equal.” [Women also] It was basically said after the Civil War, to Protect the African Americans. How about now, it’s time to protect Transgender people as well as the Afro Americans that are still oppressed. We are supposed to be protected, and now we have a GOP pushing Theocracy on all US Citizens, and denying rights to Trans people. DC should be following the Constitution and not GOP leaders.

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LULAC Lambda announces 2021 scholarship awards

Castro, Javier Rodriguez win $1,000 honors

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Brian Castro and Victor Javier Rodriguez are this year’s LULAC award winners.

The D.C.-based LGBTQ Latinx organization LULAC Lambda has announced it has selected two D.C. residents bound for graduate studies in foreign affairs and higher education to receive its 2021 annual scholarship award.

“For a fourth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community,” said Erik Rodriquez, the LULAC Lambda president, in a statement released by the group. “Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Rodriquez said.

The statement says one of the two scholarship awards, for $1,000, will go to Brian Castro, who will begin studies for a master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

“The generous scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will complement my studies by going directly into my tuition costs,” Castro said in the statement. “Though I have been a resident of Washington, D.C., working full-time at a leading public health consulting firm, I am grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” he said.

The other scholarship, for $1,300, will go to Victor Javier Rodriguez for his doctoral work in education at Florida State University. The LULAC Lambda statement says Javier Rodriquez’s academic interest lies in “exploring the relationship between school communities and districts’ implementation of anti-racist practice and student success.”

In his own words, Javier Rodriquez said, “A long-term career goal of mine is to affect change at the federal level through the United States Department of Education, in which I would work to address our nation’s education crisis by advocating for equitable policies and practices that improve the outcome for all our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

LULAC Lambda says it was founded in October 2014 “to mobilize and strengthen the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Washington, D.C. through community and civic engagement.” It is one of 1,000 chapters across the country affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization, the group’s statement says.

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Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

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Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

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Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

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Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least six D.C. gay bars announced last week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners; the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building; the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR.’s; and the U Street, N.W. gay bar The Dirty Goose.

The six bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday, July 29, issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It took effect at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s Delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine would allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof of a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on July 30 to also put in place a requirement that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a five-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than a three-day requirement to accommodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. queer bars couldn’t immediately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other bars as of Friday afternoon that they planned to put in place a proof of vaccination requirement.

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