According to the Human Rights Petition against the Trails End Farmer's Market, "On September 10th, 2011 three transgender individuals were running a booth at the Trails End Farmers Market in London, Ontario, Canada. These individuals were working for another non-LGBT business owner selling incense and candles. Business was running smoothly throughout the busy day. Later that evening the owner of the booth received a call from the manager at the farmers market telling her that she needed to remove the transgender individuals from her booth or she could take her booth elsewhere."
Before we go any further, it's worth noting that this is a FARMER'S MARKET. IN CANADA. Not only should everyone be welcome at a farmer's market, but I imagine it's not often that a booth that just wants to sell some fricking candles gets kicked out the farmer's market for any reason. Ever. Because it's a FARMER'S MARKET.
So why was booth owner Karen Clarke asked to "remove" these transgender folks from her booth? Because they were making people "uncomfortable", of course.
Their justification was that this was a family-friendly business and they didn't want that sort of 'population' in their establishment and that they made people uncomfortable (the manager did not provide proof of these claims when asked repeatedly). Sign this petition to tell the Trails End Farmers Market that we live in a diverse society and that it is discriminatory to forbid certain individuals from running booths in their establishment. Transgender individuals are not 'unfamily-friendly' and they were merely selling candles.
That sounds fair. Why would the manager have to provide actual proof of these claims? It's 2011 and it's totally cool to speak for everyone's comfort level when it comes to LGBT discrimination!
"Uh, they were making everyone uncomfortable or something. You could just tell. A family came over to buy some candles and they saw one of your employees and didn't buy the candle so I'm guessing it was because of the transgendered thing. Or it wasn't. Look, I don't have time to explain why I'm against transgendered people, I just am. Isn't that enough of a justification for my threats to shut down your business?"
Clarke says she received the call around 8pm Saturday night from the Trails End management saying if she was going to have "those people" there she could "take my business elsewhere."
"He said it made everyone uncomfortable and it just wasn't right. This is a family place, a family market and this just isn't right. I just kept insisting what happened that was wrong and he said you walk up to the person and they're dressed like a woman and they've got big hands, a deep voice and tattoos and it's just not right. It's just not a family place he kept repeating that over and over again. And I kept trying to get from him what was wrong, what was so not right, what was it that people were complaining about and there was no details forthcoming that way. He called them 'those people' several times."
Michelle Boyce is now providing counsel to the vendor and says this is a case of blatant discrimination and a complaint will be filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
"We're in the process of filing human rights against Trails End Market, its blatant discrimination of what they've done. I've never seen a case so obvious."
The good news is, if the commission votes in their favor, they could win a hefty settlement, which would send a powerful message to people who still think it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against LGBT individuals.
"There's pain and suffering, dollars that are in play and that can total up to $30,000 or $40,000, it depends on each case. Then there's the public interest piece where the public interest is at play and they're going to have to get training and develop programs that include transpeople, LGBT communities and make it a safe place for all of the public."
Ed Kikkert, the owner of the Trails End Farmer's Market says he was "alerted to the presence of the transgendered individuals through employees and customers" and says Clarke was given the opportunity to take her business elsewhere — on the basis of discrimination.
"She was asked if she could not look after her booth, if she was not able, then she was asked to leave it because of the people she had running it," Kikkert said. "The issue was there was three men in that booth dressed up as women."
He doesn't believe this is a case of discrimination.
"Why would I be discriminating? I'm not discriminating at all. I'm just asking which washroom would they use? How can you go into a men's washroom dressed as a lady, how can you go into ladies washroom when you're a man. That's the difficulty I have. It's not discriminating at all. The issue is at hand."
Kikkert also didn't have much of a reaction when he was informed the human rights complaint was being filed.
"Everybody has to do what they have to do."
Right. Some people have to openly discriminate against transgendered people because they don't understand which washroom they would use and other people have to stand up against that because it's fucking ridiculous.
Fortunately, Clarke and her staff are not without their supporters. If you'd like to help, there is a petition to boycott the market and it's currently racking up plenty of signatures.