Transphobia in Casino Rama in Ontario

15 07 2009

Back on March 27, 2008, Carol Ann Kotsopoulos, a 38 year old transwoman from Meaford, Ontario, was escorted out of a ladies’ bathroom in Casino Rama in Orillia by a female security guard. Kotsopoulos was in the bathroom, taking care of business of in a closed stall, when a female security guard yelled at her, “Are you a woman or a man?”

Kotsopoulos responded in a joking way, “I’m a transgendered woman, do you want to look?”

The security guard told her, “You cannot use this washroom, you’ll have to use the unisex washroom” although Kotsopoulos said, “There is no unisex washroom that I have ever seen there.”

The guard then escorted her to a public area where she was surrounded by four other guards. Apparently the first guard was called over to the bathroom because another patron had complained.

Kotsopoulos was humiliated, shocked and traumatized, and she filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that is pending mediation with Casino Rama and an adjudicator, which will likely occur in the fall.

This is deeply disturbing and bears witness to the rampant transphobia that still persists throughout the world. First of all, what kind of question is “Are you a woman or a man?” And who the heck thinks it’s okay to yell that at someone while they are peeing? That is plain rude, insulting and degrading.

Besides, was it really necessary to have five guards? Isn’t that a bit much? All she was doing was minding her business in the bathroom, not wielding a large knife or pointing a gun at anyone. Sigh, these guards need something better to do with their time.

Says Monica over at TransGriot:

The casino is not only owned by First Nations peeps, it sits on reserve land. You would think the last place a transperson would face such disrespect is in a First Nations owned casino due to the concept of two spirit people that is part of First nations culture.

The casino is managed by a US based company called Penn National Gaming in Wyomissing, PA. The Casino Rama is also the largest First Nations owned commercial casino in Canada and the only one in Ontario.

I understand where Monica is coming from, but at the same time First Nations culture is not a homogeneous and monolithic group so it might be unfair to lump them all together. She continues:

Would Ms. Kotsopoulos gotten that type of disrespectful and humiliating treatment from the Casino Rama security staff if she was a high roller dropping big money instead of the smaller amounts she could afford based on her small monthly disability pension?

So clearly this is not only a trans issue, but it is also a class and physical ability issue. Like we’ve said before, oppressions are all interconnected and they function together to maintain the status quo, and this is just one more testament.

Let’s hope that Kotsopoulos’ case proceeds well in the fall.


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