Dressed as a Woman But Your ID Says You’re a Man? You Can’t Enter This Chicago Bar


Hunters Nightclub in Chicago could soon become a gay household name not because police raided it Stonewall style, and not because of allegations of drugs or public sex, but because of the way it’s cracking down on cross-dressing hookers: By forcing patrons to present photo ID that matches their “gender presentation” as they enter the club.

Officially, the new ID policy is to crack down on cross-dressing prostitutes advertising their services on Craigslist, and using Hunters as a place to do business. But by forcing everyone, including men dressed “ladies of the night,” to show ID with a photo of them dressed as the gender they look like, Hunters is also discriminating against transgender/transexual clientele. And dudes who just like to dress up as ladies now and then.s

Illinois’ ACLU chapter is quick to point out the Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits businesses from discriminating against gender identity — which it looks like Hunters is doing.

Now, it’s worth commending the venue for doing something to crack down on prostitution under its roof. Say what you will about whether prostitution should be legalized, but with it comes sexual exploitation and, often, drug abuse. Plus, take it elsewhere; gay bars are for enjoying a night out with your friends and possibly meeting a mate (at least of the one-night variety), not for transacting business.


But a gay bar that’s inherently banning drag queens and transgender men and women from entering because of a photo ID policy strikes as overreaching, and unfair. Especially because a cursory look through Hunters’ photo gallery shows not one cross-dresser on display, but rather guys like this:


Okay, to be fair, we spotted this fella too … evidence they do love their guys-as-gals:

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  • Jaroslaw

    If you can’t discriminate based on gender then you can’t worry about the apparel. It would have to be illegal for men to wear women’s clothes for that to be enforced, no? And the bar wouldn’t do the enforcing, the police would. The only thing they could worry about is underage drinkers, I would think…

  • Dennis

    This is not going to end well for Hunters. It’s actually a suburban Chicago bar, but some city activist lgbT’s will probably make it a point to carpool out to the burbs, and protest this discrimination…as they probably should.

    Hunters can be fun, but the place can be kind of a freak show sometimes. It has always had a group of crossdressing/trans customers along with an otherwise fairly diverse clientele for a surburban bar.

    Methinks this is about business and image, and sorry if this isn’t PC, but older surburban trannies don’t usually make hot twinks want to come out and party at your bar. I think Hunters is trying to drive out the trans people, and “whitewash/youthwash” its’ clientele.

  • Dana Lane

    This is totally wrong and I hope they get a huge fine.

  • Kian

    Just another instance of discomfort the gay community has with the trans community. Maybe if people were more comfortable with trans people, then it wouldn’t bring their business down because it would be like every other place. Except trans people aren’t welcome anywhere and therefore hope and pray that the gay bar they frequent won’t shun them. I guess as long as we don’t congregate in too large numbers we can be tolerated…

  • Steve

    Oh God–this is so blown out of proportion. Hunters has nothing against the Transgendered community or the drag community! They are one of the most welcoming bars in Illinois!

    These are not your everyday drag queens or trans persons–they are basically guys barely disguised as women for the purposes of robbing the patrons. It’s kind of an epidemic in Chicago right now–which any responsible blogger or journalist with access to Google woudl know!!

    It is by no means an act of discrimination on the part of Hunters–but merely a basic security check-point.

    Yes, this bar is suburban and tragic–but hardly discriminatory!

  • ChicagoJimmy

    Sad. Hunters is in the suburbs, as stated above, and there’s not a lot of places to go for anyone living an alternate lifestyle. I haven’t been there many times, but I always felt like there was a pretty good mix of different types of folks there.

    I can understand a bar wanting to protect themselves and their liquor license, and sometimes people do come to the bar not looking at all like the photo on their ID, but this seems to be going a bit too far.

    I suggest they do what bars did when I lived in Georgia and the law was 18 to party 21 to drink. Anyone who came in under 21 could enter, but they had to leave their ID with the ID checker and had to wear a wrist band. At the end of the night, return with the wristband around your wrist and you got your ID back. This allows the patron to appear as they would like, and be honest about their identity with the bar, also protecting the bar’s liquor license.

  • Nizara

    the bar in the burbs always had nice transvestites in the mix (in the 90s anyway) — they were usually non-passing Ed Wood types.
    They would hang together and we dubbed them the “secretarial pool”.

  • Miss Understood

    @Steve: You are delusional. Men who date transgendered people are not usually “fooled”. They know what they are looking for. And, while you may agree with the motivation behind this discrimination, it is still discrimination.

  • Niya

    The hunters in San Jose (now gone) did not like drag queens .

  • Marc

    The tranny sex workers love this bar as it is close to O’Hare airport. Trannies fly in from all over the country to turn tricks in the nearby hotels and make a little vacation out of it.

    Men like variety so a new crop always comes in to satisfy the demand.

    But it is discriminatory to the small town guys or suburbanites who go there for community and to freely cross dress. Getting paid for sex is not on these people’s mind.

  • Kropotkin

    I’ve heard through the grape vine via locals that this isn’t about security precautions or trans sex workers, it’s about the bar trying to attract a more upmarket and younger crowd, so the un-passable trans people are being turned away in case it might scare the new clientele.

    No matter the reasoning, this is discriminatory and unacceptable.

  • cindy C

    As Trans person who has frequented HUnters in the past, the question really is what does my id have to do with whether I might be turning tricks. The id states who I legally am, not what I may be up to. Certainly, a bar has the right to keep working men, women or trans from plying their wares in the club. I believe this would be noticed by their actions, and not by their legal form of id. To claim the policy is necessary due to the fact that trans people are prostitutes is wrong. If Hunters does not want trans people there, then say so and be done with it, but do not call them all hookers unless they have a fem id.

  • DeAnimator

    Not surprised but Hunters isn’t in Chicago- it is in Elk Grove. It’s on Higgins.

  • Laurie

    There are alot of men who adore dressing like a woman. Not to solicit any thing other then what they would like their identity to be like. If Hunters wanted to really make some money, they should come out with a TG bar. Get a license for TG’s and this way the police do not have to manipulate the gay aspect of Hunters. Hunters started as a gay bar, leave it as a gay bar.

    Let’s get something new and exiting for the men and woman who have identity issues and love the opposite sex clothes, make up and style.

  • Bob Cigeliski

    I am a gay man, but I love TG’s and love to be with a man who dresses and cares for himself as a woman. It is total turn on. I have met numerous TG’s at Hunters and one I have fallen head over heels for. I wish more TG’s would dress like woman on a day to day basis rather then hiding their identity in a dark and dreary nightclub. To all you TG men to woman. Please show more of yourselfs in real life. It’s acceptable and understood in Illinois, Elk Grove and the surrounding communities. I love you.


  • Cyndi Richards

    This recurring bit (NOT the first time this has happened!) of thinly disguised subterfuge (proper ID = proper behavior) in the name of “saving the business license” is complete rubbish.

    Most of us who are politicallty pro-active in the TG/TS community (which leaves out the vast majority of casual cross-dressers that hang out by the pool table on the week-ends), and anybody who is actually familiar with the fairly comprehensive IL anti-discrimination laws (which ARE gender-identity inclusive, thanks to us!)) knows this to be true.

    Hunter’s management knows this to be true.

    Hunter’s knows only too well that by enforcing a completely arbitrary admittance policy they are pissing off a very insignificant (in their eyes) group of patrons.

    Hunter’s also knows (from experience) that participating in this type of off again – on again friction with a small minority-within-a-minority has consistently resulted in HUGE amounts of FREE publicity all over the world, as this FREE write-up (complete with pictures!) in a national outlet like QWEERTY amply demonstrates.

    It has been communicated to most of Chicago’s concerned LGBT groups that this bogus door policy is NOT consistent with the laws of the state of IL or the county of Cook.

    People who claim to have a specific complaint against Hunter’s have been encouraged to bring their case before the IL Commission on Human Rights. That was over six weeks ago. I know, because I was at several of the official meetings on this topic.

    So far, not ONE of these “outraged” patrons has stepped forward to file the papers necessary to take this matter to the proper authorities.

    As is so typical in our delightfully diverse community, everybody wants “equality”, but very few are willing to stand up and fight for it. Most of us who DO “say it loud and say it proud” in the struggle for equal (not special) rights for trans-folk believe this is blatant discrimination, AND poor local PR to boot.

    However, with so few resources at our disposal, the primary trans-rights activists in this town have to carefully choose our “battles”. The fact is, this silly nonsense (ONE little bar in a city of 7 million people doesn’t like us – WAHHH!) just doesn’t match up to REAL problems like ENDA, or the 120 plus dead trans-people who were memorialized at this yera’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.

    Meanwhile, back at the bar; Hunter’s managers may be selectively stingy with their hospitality, but they are definitely not lacking in business acumen.

    There’s no such thing as “bad” publicity.

    It has been said that when the only tool one has is a hammer, all your problems start to resemble nails.

    For far too many aspiring trans-activists in this city, there seems to be a parallel rule – when all you’ve got is a bullhorn, every problem looks like a protest march.

    Personally, I hate doing business in a place that acts like they’re doing me some kind of favor by taking my money, but maybe that’s just me?

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