Gay rights activists Thursday rallied to the side of transgendered Scottsdale Human Rights Commission chair Michele deLaFreniere, who has filed a discrimination complaint against a local nightclub.
“We wanted to support Michele, who is a member of the transgendered community,” said Sam Holdren, field organizer for the Phoenix-based gay rights group Equality Arizona.
“The transgendered community is very often the target of bias and discrimination.”
DeLaFreniere, who was born male, claims that Tom Anderson, owner of Anderson’s Fifth Estate nightclub, 6820 E. Fifth Ave., violated her civil rights by banning her from the club after patrons complained about men dressed as women using the women’s restroom.
Anderson said he has received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union asking him to install a third restroom for transgendered people. But, he said, the expense would be high and it would be unfair because other restaurants and bars, and even government offices, don’t have such a requirement.
“These transgendereds want to be thought of as female,” Anderson said. “They’re going to be slighted if they have to use a third bathroom with a question mark on it.”
DeLaFreniere appeared at Equality Arizona’s offices Thursday afternoon to talk about a decision by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to investigate her complaint. A meeting among Anderson, deLaFreniere and representatives of the attorney general’s office has been set for Aug. 7.
The nonprofit Equality Arizona until recently was known as the Arizona Human Rights Fund.
Holdren said accommodations should be made for transgendered people. “The reality is that transgendered people are people, and they should be able to use the bathrooms they identify with,” he said.
Andrea M. Esquer, spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the law prevents her from confirming or denying an ongoing investigation. “I can’t comment on any civil rights complaints,” she said.
- Tribune/ABC15 News reporter Nicole Beyer contributed to this report.