Ariz. Bar Owner, Transwoman Reach Bathroom Settlement

Tucson, Ariz. – A year-long dispute centering around transgender accessibility to a Tucson, Ariz. nightclub’s bathroom ended earlier this month when the club’s owner agreed to designate one restroom stall as unisex.

Michele de LaFreniere, a transgender woman and a member of the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission and Arizona Transgender Alliance, filed a sex discrimination suit against Tom Anderson, owner of Anderson’s Fifth Estate, last year after Anderson barred her and five other transgender patrons from the club after female patrons complained that “men in dresses” were using the women’s restroom, and standing up to urinate.

At the time, Anderson said he saw no other way to resolve the situation and keep the transgender patrons safe.

Previous attempts by Equality Arizona to settle the dispute had failed. Although Anderson said he would install a single-stall bathroom unit on Oct. 30, De LaFreniere said she would not drop her complaint unless Anderson allowed her and other banned transgender patrons back into the night club.

“It still doesn't address the issue of the original discrimination,” she told The Arizona Republic at the time.

De LaFreniere dropped her civil rights suit on Nov. 13 after Anderson let her patron the club again.

Anderson said that he was relieved to end the dispute.

"It cost me about $5 for a (bathroom) sign, and add many more zeroes to that for what I owe my attorney," he said, adding that the dispute was never about discrimination.
"We've never been about barring anybody or blocking anybody from coming in," he said.

De LaFreniere also said she was relieved that the conflict has ended.

"It was hard on both parties," she said.

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