According to The New York Daily News, Bryan John Ellicott, a city employee for the Office of Emergency Management and a 24-year-old transgender man, is suing New York City after three Parks Department employees discriminated against him because of his gender on July 21 last year.
The lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court explains that Ellicott is a transgender man, and that both his doctor and New York State, on his driver's license, recognize him as male. He has taken his name in memory of his father, a 9/11 first responder.
When Ellicott went to the Lyons Pool in Staten Island, he was wearing swimming trunks underneath his jeans and a chest binder under a black shirt. Upon entering the men's locker room, he removed his jeans, keeping his swimming trunks on and chest binder intact under his shirt. Seeking to comply with pool regulations that a white shirt may be worn in the pool, Ellicott attempted to return to the locker room to change when a Parks Dept. employee told him someone had complained about his presence and that he had to use the women's locker room or leave the facility. When Ellicott asked to speak to a supervisor, the employee called over another Parks Dept. worker, who repeated the same order. Ellicott asked again to speak to a supervisor at which point another employee came over and still refused him entry to the men's locker room. At no point did the employees cite a law, rule, or policy to justify their actions. The Parks Dept. has also declined to answer questions about the incident.
Like hundreds of other New Yorkers that day, I was just trying to get some relief from the sweltering heat and enjoy an afternoon at the pool. Instead, I was singled out by pool staff because I am transgender. They harassed and humiliated me. No one deserves to be treated that way, but it's an all-too-common experience for transgender people like me when we use restrooms and locker rooms.
Ellicott was also assaulted in 2012 in a men's bathroom in Union Square and usually maintains a strategy for entering public restrooms – trying to be the only person present or being able to bring or text a friend as a contingency plan.
According to his lawyer, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), Michael Silverman, Ellicott wants to sue because the city needs a "uniform approach" rather than a patchwork of policies.
Incidents of discrimination against transgender people at public facilities restrict their ability to fully participate in society. Being able to use a restroom without harassment and discrimination is essential to being able to do things like work or use public places. Everyone should have equal access to public facilities. Transgender people cannot be treated as less than full citizens and be denied the use of restrooms and locker rooms just because of who they are.
Silverman says, "We're asking the court to put transgender people under the human rights law."