Restaurant apologizes to transgender woman unlawfully hassled for ID before using restroom

A restaurant in Washington, D.C., is apologizing for an incident that took place on Friday night, when one of the eatery’s managers unlawfully asked a transgender woman for ID before she used the ladies’ restroom.

Charlotte Clymer was dining out with her friends at the Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar, when, toward the end of their meal, she was asked by an employee to provide ID stating that she was “female” after she attempted to enter the bathroom.

“I told him that's nonsense, turned on my heel, and continued into the restroom,” Clymer wrote on Facebook.

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Clymer added that after she entered a stall, the male employee followed her into the restroom, though he left shortly afterward. Then, when she exited, the staff member and a manager were waiting for her in the hallway.

Clymer said the manager, too, demanded to see her ID, claiming it was a “DC law that says you must have ‘female’ on your ID to use the women's restroom.”

cuba libre google

Clymer said the manager at the Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar cited a fictitious law that stated her ID needed to read "female" before she could enter the bathroom.  (Google Street View)

Clymer, who works for the Human Rights Campaign, said she informed the manager that he was mistaken and asked him to show her a law that backs up his claims, to which she was simply told, "You being in [the women’s bathroom] will make women uncomfortable."

After temporarily leaving the restaurant to “cool off,” Clymer pulled up Washington’s actual laws regarding gender and public accommodations — which state that “denying access to any restroom, or other gender specific facility that is consistent with a person’s gender identity or expression, is unlawful” —  and went back inside to the manager.

When she did, however, she said he laughed it off and asked her to leave, while threatening to call the cops.

When he didn’t pick up the phone, Clymer took matters into her own hands and called them herself.

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“I could not have asked for a more professional and affirming experience from the Washington Metropolitan Police Dept,” she wrote. “The responding officers — all cisgender men — were patient and kind in their communication, assured me I was right on the law, and radioed for their LGBTQ liaison unit to respond."

The restaurant, meanwhile, has posted an apology to social media on Friday evening.

“As a rule, we support safe bathrooms and welcome guests of all gender identifications,” the apology read, in part. “Clearly, our staff do not […] and treated you in an unacceptable manner. We are immediately retraining our entire staff to ensure this does not happen again.”

The district's Mayor Muriel Bowser also reached out to Clymer, saying, “I’m so sorry this happened to you. While I’m glad to hear that @DCPoliceDept were there to represent our true #DCValues, we won’t accept this type of discrimination in Washington, D.C. It’s not just illegal, it’s against all we stand for.”

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Clymer now claims the restaurant is being investigated by the city’s Office of Human Rights, and says she, too, is pursuing “legal options” against Cuba Libre.

“If the manager had apologized when I showed him the law and committed to doing better, I'd still be angry, but we wouldn't be here,” Clymer wrote on Facebook.

“He didn't do that. He did the exact opposite.”