Transgender Woman Banned From Supermarket

Theresa Hurst

A transgender woman was banned from a supermarket in Lewiston, Idaho last week over a restroom dispute involving store employees and fellow customers.

Rosauer's supermarket issued a year-long ban against 25-year-old Ally Robledo after claiming that customers were upset by her use of a restroom facility designated for women. Although Ally was born male, she is considered transgender and identifies as female.

In addition to being banned from the supermarket, Ally was also served with a criminal trespassing charge following the incident.

According to Lewiston Police Captain Roger Lanier, "The store security officer said he had been dealing with a problem over a couple days with the person going into the women's restroom and urinating while standing up."

As a transgender woman, Ally considers the supermarket's ban against her to be hurtful and discriminatory.

The 25-year-old, who says that she has completed the first phase of reconstructive surgery toward become physically female, cites safety concerns as part of the reason she chooses to use female restrooms.

"When I did use the males [restroom] there would be people that would harass me in school," Ally explained. "I would feel really embarrassed and there were times when I found myself in a lot of dangerous situations."

Ally also feels that the supermarket's decision to address the matter by involving local authorities was unnecessary. "I think calling the police is not really sufficient and I think it's a waste of our tax payer dollars," she suggested.

However, according to Police Captain Lanier, Rosauer's supermarket has the legal right to issue bans against anyone it chooses. "The store employees didn't want any further problems, and they chose to exercise their right to trespass this individual from the business," Lanier explained. "Anyone who owns or controls their property can make that decision."

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Idaho does not currently have any laws in place that explicitly disallow discrimination against transgender people when it comes to public accommodations. While several states do have such stipulations, the battle continues to be fought for equal rights in many others.

For Ilona Turner, legal director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, withholding basic human needs -- such as the use of public restrooms -- is a discriminatory act.

"Transgender people have the same needs and deserve the same access to public stores and facilities as others without discrimination based on who they are," she explained in an email to Reuters. "They just need to go to the bathroom like everyone else."

Do you think a transgender woman being banned from a supermarket for using a female restroom should be considered discrimination?

[Top image via Wikimedia Commons]