September 4, 2018 at 10:04 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trans woman, D.C. restaurant reach ‘resolution’ in discrimination case

Charlotte Clymer (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Clymer)

A transgender woman has dropped a discrimination complaint against a downtown D.C. restaurant that forced her to leave its premises in June because she used the women’s restroom after it agreed to take a series of actions in support of the trans community and to prevent a similar incident from taking place again.
 
In a joint statement released on Aug. 31, trans activist Charlotte Clymer and Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar announced that the two parties reached “a just resolution regarding the charge of discrimination regarding the incident that occurred at the D.C.-based restaurant on June 22, 2018.”  
 
The resolution was reached after the two sides participated in mediation organized by the D.C. Office of Human Rights, which was in the process of investigating Clymer’s discrimination complaint.
 
Clymer, who works as a press secretary for the D.C.-based national LGBT rights organization Human Rights Campaign, filed her complaint following a widely publicized incident in which the manager of Cuba Libre directed a bouncer to escort her out of the restaurant for violating what he claimed was its strict policy on restroom use.
 
Clymer said the manager and an attendant standing near the restrooms told her the policy required that she show identification confirming that she was a female before she could enter the women’s restroom.
 
In an account of the incident that Clymer posted on social media shortly after the incident occurred, she said she refused to show such identification and entered the restroom after trying to explain that D.C. law prohibits such an identification policy.
 
Upon leaving the restroom, Clymer said she left the restaurant on her own and used her phone to pull up D.C.’s nondiscrimination policies and laws regarding trans people. With that in hand, she returned to the restaurant and tried to further explain to the manager that D.C. law prohibits the type of restroom I.D. policy the manager claimed the restaurant had. He once again ignored her explanation and directed a bouncer to escort her out of the restaurant, Clymer stated in a Facebook posting.
 
Shortly after Clymer’s Facebook and Twitter postings recounting what happened to her and after strong messages surfaced on social media by others denouncing Cuba Libre for its treatment of her, the restaurant posted its own message on Twitter apologizing for the manager’s actions and saying it does not condone discrimination.
 
Clymer nevertheless filed a discrimination complaint against Cuba Libre with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, saying the action by the manger was a clear violation of the city’s Human Rights Act.
 
The joint statement released on Aug. 31 by Clymer and Cuba Libre states, “The resolution includes annual staff training in Spanish and English at its D.C. location, changes to restroom signage to be fully LGBTQ-inclusive, adopting written policies instructing staff to be fully LGBTQ-inclusive, a substantial donation to Casa Ruby for the purposes of local LGBTQ advocacy work and a partnership with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to educate local business owners on public accommodations law in the District (paid for by Cuba Libre.)”
 
“I am grateful to Cuba Libre for their efforts in resolving this incident and fully committing to ensuring this never happens again,” Clymer says in the joint statement. “I feel they have demonstrated good faith through the mediation process, and I am heartened by their acknowledgement of the obstacles faced by transgender people in D.C. and elsewhere,” Clymer said.
 
“Cuba Libre acknowledges the struggles faced by members of the transgender community and appreciates Ms. Clymer’s advocacy on their behalf,” Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar CEO Barry Gutin said in the joint statement. “We are committed to ensuring a welcoming and safe atmosphere in all of our restaurants,” Gutin said.
 
In a separate statement posted on Facebook, Clymer said Gutin came to a mediation meeting hosted by the Human Rights Office “with the intention of listening, learning, and committing to doing better. Our conversation was frank, cooperative, and productive.”
 
Clymer said she was especially pleased that Cuba Libre has agreed to partner with Ruby Corado, founder and director of Casa Ruby, a local LGBT community services center with a special outreach to the trans community, “to help ensure other area restaurants are fully LGBTQ-inclusive,” which Clymer called “a wonderful thing.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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