If you are a transgender person, make sure you relieve yourself before you go to Oklahoma’s City Steak and Catfish Barn — because transgender people are not welcome to use the restaurant’s bathrooms.
The owner, Bob Warner, hung an incredibly discriminating sign on the window of his restaurant emblazoned with the words, “We do not have a transgender bathroom. So don't be caught in the wrong one. Thank you, Bob.”
The words “don’t be caught (underlined) in the wrong one (also underlined)” come out as decidedly threatening, but Warner said they were just warnings.
“We have a lot of redneck guys that come in here,” Warner told KFOR. “Truck drivers and everything. They're big husky guys and I said, ‘man alive!’ If their wife or their little girl walked in that bathroom and a man followed them in there, I wouldn't have a restaurant.”
If that’s the case, then perhaps Warner should hang up a sign proclaiming violence will not be tolerated from these “rednecks” in his establishment instead of banning transgender people from his bathrooms. But clearly, he did not do so.
When pushed further, Warner said transgender people could use the toilet as long as they were “dressed appropriately.” What does that even mean? Did he mean they have to wear clothes of the gender they were assigned at birth or the one they identify with?
The man did not elaborate.
Many Oklahoma City residents, particularly those belonging to the transgender community, felt bad vibes from the notice.
"I was disturbed," Paula Schonauer, a transgender woman, told KFOR and admitted the last sentence scared her. “It was really a let down. That sign has an implied threat and a threat that's very real to me.”
Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma also perceived the sign as threatening.
"You've got this sign implying a threat of potential violence against somebody for going to pee," he said. "That's not the Oklahoma standard. That's not what it means to be American. That's just wrong."
On Yelp, many customers condemned the behavior and told the owner they won’t be coming back to eat at his place.
Transgender people’s use of public restrooms has become a hot issue since North Carolina passed the “bathroom bill” and even more so since President Donald Trump overturned the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms at school that matched their gender identity.
But what has escaped the entire debate around transgender people's use of public restrooms is that these individuals are not "out to get" those who do not personally understand them — they are humans, and they just want to go about their lives like everyone else.
Worse yet, trans women of color are still some of the most disproportionately impacted by bigotry and racism. And still, they are often "missing" from the national conversation revolving transgender rights.
In 2016, 27 transgender people were killed by bigots. And why exactly? As you can see in our newest installment of Carbonated Conversations above, transgender individuals don't want to "sneak in places they don't belong," they don't want to interfere with the way you live your life.
Instead, what they are really after is putting an end to the dehumanization process many of Trump's policies and rhetoric have ignited. We all know what happens when we begin to systematically dehumanize people based on particular characteristics. Just look at the 2016 incidents; we shouldn't be willing to go down that route.
In the end, transgender individuals are not asking for privileges — they are demanding to be respected for who they are. And shouldn't they? Or is it too much to ask?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Drake