A trans woman was arrested following an argument over her use of the women’s restroom in a North Carolina restaurant.
The incident took place at a Denny’s in the Cleaveland County city of Shelby last Sunday (30 June).
An argument erupted after customers complained about trans woman Michael Lloyd used the Denny’s women’s restroom.
Although Lloyd was arrested, this was not due to her using the women’s restroom – which she is entitled to do in North Carolina – but because of the ensuing argument.
It has brought up reminders of the state’s controversial laws regarding trans bathroom rights, which helped stir a national debate over trans bathroom rights.
North Carolina used to have a law which banned trans people from using bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. The highly controversial House Bill 142, also known as the ‘bathroom bill’, was repealed in 2017.
‘Of course, it is legal for this young lady to use the bathroom that she identified with’
Police say that the incident escalated after another customer, David Short, complained about Lloyd using the restroom.
Short said his wife was also using the restroom at the time, and that he ‘didn’t feel that was right’ about Lloyd using also using the facilities. Short then called the police, local television station WCNC reports.
‘We don’t really get this kind of call much,’ said Captain Steve Canipe with the Shelby Police Department, who said that when police officers arrived they explained to Short that Lloyd was within her rights to use the bathroom.
‘The officers instructed the patrons who were having a question about if it was legal, of course, it is legal for this young lady to use the bathroom that she identified with,’ said Canipe.
‘There was no signage or anything and the employees didn’t interfere with the use of the bathroom, it was all completely open for her.’
However, Lloyd was arrested after instigating a further argument with the customers.
‘They had already left the restaurant decided to come back in and I guess express their opinion by actually spitting at someone, so that is where the problem came in,’ Canipe added.
Lloyd, 22, was later released on an unsecured bond and has not commented on the matter.
‘Our bathrooms policies across the country allow guests to use the bathroom of their gender identity’
Denny’s released a statement saying they were ‘saddened’ to hear of the incident, and that they ‘[do] not tolerate discrimination of any kind’.
‘Our bathrooms policies across the country allow guests to use the bathroom of their gender identity,’ the statement reads.
‘Our staff are trained to ensure everyone, regardless of their gender identity is treated equally and we expect our guests to treat everyone in the same manner.’
The recent incident is not the first time a dispute has occurred regarding the bathroom rights of trans women in North Carolina.
In December last year, two women were arrested and charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a trans woman who was using a women’s bathroom in Raleigh.
Sparking a national debate
The controversy over North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’, which was signed into law in March 2016, had wide-ranging effects.
The fallout over the bill effectively instigated a nation-wide debate over the bathroom rights of trans individuals in the US.
Lawmakers repealed the bathroom portion of the bill in March 2017. In September of the following year, a federal court ruled that the law does not prohibit transgender people from using public facilities corresponding to their gender identity.
A separate survey found that transgender, non-binary and genderqueer students are at higher risk for sexual assault if they attend a school with bathroom restrictions.