Alissah Brooks was enjoying a night out at a reception with the GLAAD Atlanta Leadership Council. After she left the reception, she followed some friends to Don Pollo Bar & Grill. It was at Don Pollo that Alissah was denied entry because the gender on her ID didn't match her presentation. Alissah is a transwoman and popular performer in Atlanta Georgia.
After being asked to leave the establishment, her friends, drag performers Mariah Balenciaga and Y'Marie Santiago, recorded the confrontation with the employees working the door and posted it to Alissah's youtube channel. In the video the employee can be heard saying "We have the right to be selective."
After the incident, the owner of Don Pollo released a statement to the Huffington Post:
This was not an issue of discrimination or any of the sort the rules are we have the right to entry for any circumstances not only because of their gender, race, or etc. And as you see we check ID's and on the ID it says male yet dressed as a woman and we are not able to prove if that's the person she says she is. The individual is providing false identification so we as a private property have the right to deny entry to anybody again not because of their sexual preference. If you have any sort of contact I would like to speak to them in person. And tell them to stop badgering my business or I will be forced to take legal action. Thank You.
On Don Pollo's Yelp and Facebook pages, LGBT advocates have noted that the bar discriminates against transgender people leaving scathing reviews much to the frustration of business owners. The owner of Don Pollo has threatened to sue those who have left unfavorable reviews based on their discrimination against transgender people.
GLAAD has been working with Alissah to raise awarenesss of this very issue. Alissah's case illustrates just a bit of what transgender people face. Prejudice towards marginalized groups is a fairly common occurrence. Business owners will implement policies around dress code which often times is codified language for gender and race based discrimination. For instance policies like no white t-shirts, baseball caps or urban wear minimizes the number of black men that will be allowed into an establishment.
Just recently, the Denver Wrangler, a gay bar in Denver Colorado was boycotted because of their discriminatory practice of not allowing transwomen or drag queens into the bar with flimsy rules like no open toe shoes or a gender matching ID policy. Earlier this year The Twilight Room Annex, a bar and restaurant in Portland Oregon was fined $400,000 after it banned a group of transwomen from coming to the establishment which they frequented for over a year.
Around the country, various city ordinances and guidelines that protect people from being discriminated against based on race, gender, or sexual orientation in these types of situations. However, when it comes to gender presentation versus official gender markers and names on state issued ID, trans people tend to be left out of those protections.
The state of Georgia does allow transgender people to change the gender markers on their birth certificates. However, many transgender people cannot or choose not to take this action.
GLAAD joins the chorus of people and organizations who are calling for public establishments, such as bars and restaurants, to treat transgender customers with dignity and respect.