After all the recent depressing news regarding transphobia and violence (such as the murders in Harlem and Jamaica), it is nice to finally get some good news.: this last week an Oregon court ruled against transgender descrimination. The case is fairly clear cut: a group of friends “The Rose City T-girls” used to meet every week at a local bar called the “P Club” in Portland, Oregon. About 14 months ago, the owner, Chris Penner, suddenly told them that to stay away due to their transgender status. Up to this point they had been very loyal and friendly customers. Usually nothing is done about this kind of treatment, except Oregon has just passed a law, the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, prohibiting transgender discrimination. Though he probably now regrets it, the owner also left voicemail messages on Casandra’s phone explaining his motives.
Finally, this week the court ordered the bar owner to pay the group $400,000 damages, stating that the group was not responsible for the decline of the club. I would of thought that making long-term customers feel unwelcome had more to do with that. Yet more importantly this was the first case under the new law and it now sets an important precedent. Way to go girls!! You can find more coverage and interviews on KATU news. I have been following this case for a while, as I know several of the girls involved from Diva Las Vegas. Throughout the entire ordeal, I have been really impressed by their bravery and openness. Try to imagine the journey from being silent and in the closet to publicly speaking out, testifying in court, and appearing on television to argue that this sort of discrimination is not acceptable. For more exciting twists and turns, I recommend reading Susan Miller’s blog about the experience.