New Ordinances Fight Transgender Discrimination

Actually the gender identity is a very small part of these ordinances, but the important part is that it is there. The first ordinance is 67119:

St. Louis City Ordinance 67119
Abstract: An ordinance intended to eliminate, reduce and remedy discrimination in housing, employment, education, services, public accommodations, and real property transactions and uses, to provide equal opportunity enforcement, and to bring the laws of the City of St. Louis into substantial compliance with the Federal Fair Fair Housing Act by repealing ordinance 66088 and enacting in lieu thereof an ordinance amending and restating the previous ordinance, and containing a penalty clause, a savings clause, a severability clause, a clause providing for judicial review, a clause providing for liberal interpretation of this ordinance, and an emergency clause.

The above ordinance did not include gender identity, but was amended with ordinance 68715, which includes gender identity.

St. Louis City Ordinance 68715
Abstract: An ordinance intended to eliminate, reduce and remedy discrimination in housing, employment, education, services, public accommodations, and real property transactions and uses, to provide equal opportunity enforcement, and to bring the laws of the City of St. Louis into substantial compliance with the Federal Fair Housing Act by amending Sections Two, Five, Seven, Eight and Nine of Ordinance 67119, approved June 13, 2006 and containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.

A big thank you to Alderman Shane Cohn and all the other alderman for introducing bill 67 and Mayor Slay for signing it into law.



Discrimination at the Cheshire

Cheshire Inn is in the news again! Poor Dan Apted owner of the Cheshire Lodge. I'll bet he is wondering why he leased the Cheshire Inn restaurant and bar to Jack Lueders. The Cheshire Inn is on the same property as the Lodge, but in a seperate building. This group really appears to have a problem with doormen that discriminate.

According to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 6/06/03 and on St. Louis Today 6/20/03, a group of individuals was denied entry into the Cheshire Inn Bar because of, according to the article, the men's hairstyle. The doorman was quoted as saying, "We have a non-dreadlocks policy," and two individuals in that group, Carter and Williams, had, you guessed it, dreadlocks. When companions came outside to their aid, they in turn were denied re-entry. Later Lueders said that their policy was not race related. His excuse was that the "no dreadlocks" policy was in place to keep a homeless man out. He also said that people with dreadlocks are denied access because, get this, "You can't wash that hair, and it stinks, and . . . we don't want stinky people in the bar." Well, so much for Lueders' knowledge of dreadlocks hygiene.

July 3, 2005--they're back at it. This time a doorman denied entry to the Cheshire Inn to two transgender individuals. Yes, that is correct. The Cheshire Inn now discriminates against the GLBT community. And how do I know this? Well, because I was one of those individuals discriminated against.

At approximately 1:15 a.m., I arrived at Cheshire Lodge with two friends, Dawn and Lisa. Lisa and I are transgendered, well over double the drinking age, and were dressed very conservatively that night. Lisa was stopped by the doorman, whom I hadn't even noticed on my way in. He asked for her ID, said she did not look like it, and refused her entry. Give me a break. A little makeup and change of hair doesn't change someone's appearance that much, especially for someone who should be trained for this purpose. If it did, half the women going out for the evening would be turned away. I wonder how many women if any have been turned away for such a reason? And what about men's beards and mustaches?--which hide facial features, not enhance them. How many men have they turned away who have changed their facial hair since their ID photo was taken? Back to that night . . . I was called back by Lisa and Dawn, and at that time the doorman said I could not go in either. I tried to discuss this incident with him, but he was adamant and said we would be thrown out if we tried to go in. One of the two off-duty, uniformed policemen standing behind him muttered that he wasn't getting involved, but I thought it wise not to test that. Instead, I asked to talk with a manager; the doorman said he was the only one in charge. I asked why he was denying me entry; he said I did not look like my ID either. EEEEHH Wrong. He never even asked for my ID! When I pointed that fact out, he said that he saw it. I guess he had X-ray eyes . . . or maybe we all look alike. It was quite evident that we were being denied entry because of our gender expression.

Over the last two weeks, I have left many phone messages in an attempt to talk with General Manager Gina Lueders. (Name sound familiar?) I had hoped to find out if this was just some young, bigoted doorman acting on his own or if this was the policy of the Cheshire restaurant. I have been unsuccessful in reaching Ms. Lueders, so I researched the Cheshire Inn and found several complaints and the Inn itself. Now I can't imagine why anyone would want to stay there. When I found the article about denying entrance to African-Americans because they were wearing dreadlocks, I could hardly believe my eyes. Is this the same doorman? Does the bigotry come from higher up? How many other individuals have they discriminated against?

What is Lueders' excuse this time? I don't stink. My hair is immaculate. I'm certainly not homeless.

In the Post Dispatch article, Lueders stated that he was told that Carter and Williams were unruly, argumentative, and used offensive language. Would he say I was unruly because I would not take a simple no for an answer and requested an explanation? When denied one's rights, a person should be able to point that out to the offending person or business. Would he say I was argumentative? Being argumentative is the act or process of forming reasons and of drawing conclusions and applying them to a case in discussion. I would hope I acted in such manor.  Would he say I used offensive language? I told the doorman he was a liar and a bigot, which I believe he is.

So, fair warning: If you're transgendered, wear a certain hairstyle, are African-American or a member of a minority group, if you look different in any way, if you don't fit their stereotype, if you are even with someone who fits any of the above, You may be refused entry to the Cheshire Inn.

After two weeks of unreturned phone calls, I returned to the Cheshire in the hopes of talking in person to Lueders to see if in fact the policies are discriminatory, and if not, what action if any will be taken with their doorman. It is a shame how one bigoted individual can disrupt your evening and how, in my opinion, poor attitude and lack of management skills can shed a nasty light on a business. (I can assure you, the Cheshire Inn is not representative of St. Louis' businesses when it comes to transgender acceptance.) On Friday, July 15th, I arrived promptly for a 7 p.m. reservation. There were no problems, and I was seated. The waitress was friendly. I ordered a glass of wine and asked to speak with the manager. A restaurant manager came out, said the doorman was there for the bar not the restaurant, and that I needed to talk with Gina, the general manager, who wasn't in and "has no set hours." (Nice job if you can get it.) I took my drink and visited the bar to see if there was another manager over there who was responsible for the doorman. After sitting in there a while, I asked the bartender if either Gina or Jack was there. She said Gina wasn't, and Jack was in the kitchen but too busy to talk. I asked her to give him my card and to relay that I would like to speak with him. After about 5 minutes she came back and said he had to run out and would be back later. Uh, okay. As for my contact with the other employees, I felt I had a very chilly reception, the only exceptions being the restaurant waitress and the piano player.

I had hoped to hear from one of the Lueders with a explanation and hopefully an apology. A letter of apology would have been even better. That way if I ever have occasion to go back to the Cheshire and am refused entry by a new, untrained doorman, I'd have a "get in" card. But after waiting over two weeks, I guess I'll just have to conclude that there was nothing unintentional about their denying entrance to two transgendered individuals.

An update 7/25/2005. I was not denied entry on either of two recent the Cheshire Inn. On both visits there was a new doorman.

The Fox and Hound Tavern is in the Cheshire Lodge and is not the bar that we were denied entry to.

3/23/06 The Cheshire Inn is now CLOSED.


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