Two transgender siblings, Taiyande and Donavion Huskey, say that security guards at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last April refused to let them use restrooms matching their gender identities. So, the ACLU of Southern California has contacted the festival’s organizers to try and secure policy changes to prevent such discrimination in the future.
If organizers don’t create new policies soon, the ACLU could sue.
Donavion identifies as a woman and Taiyande identifies as a man. In two separate incidents, both were standing in lines to use the restroom, reportedly without any disturbance from other concert-goers, when security guards informed each one that they couldn’t use the single-gender facilities.
The guards neither explained why nor pointed out where to find trans-inclusive toilets. Both siblings began using gender-neutral restrooms located elsewhere, fearful of another incident.
“The treatment I experienced when trying to access the bathroom at Coachella was so far beyond embarrassing, it left me speechless,” Donavion said a statement. “It was especially abhorrent at an event purported to promote inclusion, diversity, and authentic expression, especially as it welcomed its first black woman headliner.”
Her brother Taiyande said, “In that moment I felt like I was stripped of all my dignity and embarrassed in a way that really made me feel like less of a person. No one should have to feel that way.”
Since 2005, California anti-discrimination law has forbidden discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in public accommodations, guaranteeing them the right to use public facilities like bathrooms, locker rooms and hotel rooms as well as other pubic utilities and services.
A statement from Coachella organizers said, “Donavion and Taiyande’s experience is unacceptable. [Coachella will start an “every one” campaign to create] a festival culture that is safe and inclusive for everyone. Persons of any gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, age or ability are welcome at Coachella.”
The siblings have reportedly been invited to sit with organizers to help perfect the “every one” program. Organizers say they’ll send documentation about the new policies and training protocol for all security to the ACLU by March 6. The 2019 festival occurs from April 12 to 21.