Controversy broke out over the weekend after a server at St-Henri pizza-chicken-etcetera restaurant New System Bar-B-Q ordered a woman not to use the women’s washrooms due to her transgender identity.
New System hasn’t backed down, issuing a demi-apology that simply re-asserts their right to decide when transgender women can use washrooms at their Notre-Dame Street restaurant.
The incident came to light over the weekend — CBC reports that a server yelled at Estelle Davis, telling her that men couldn’t use the women’s washroom. She went into the washroom, and tried to discuss the incident with staff after but was dismissed.
A small protest took place at New System on Friday, and turned tense as restaurant staff threw insults at trans* people among the protest group, including throwing out questions about protesters’ genitalia.
The server who initially yelled at Davis has apologized personally, but a New System manager gave the classic “sorry you got offended” non-apology to the Huffington Post, saying she was sorry if the incident frustrated Davis, adding that in future, the restaurant’s policy will only change so that if trans* women wish to use the washroom, they will be expected to tell restaurant staff, so staff can warn other women in the restaurant — so, basically requiring trans* people to parade themselves through the restaurant before going to pee.
Davis was unavailable for comment, but her sister, Lenore Claire Herrem, tells Eater that this kind of discrimination isn’t just isolated to one bad seed of a restaurant. “People know about this circumstance because of the coverage we had and because people got together to demonstrate that it’s not OK...but it does happen all the time.”
Herrem further suggests that the manager’s “change of policy” is ridiculous.
“My response is if I ever want to use the bathroom at your establishment, I will be sure to let every table know — while they’re in the middle of their meal — exactly what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it in the women’s bathroom. I’m sure they will love that.”
But Herrem says she and others aren’t pushing for a boycott due to New System’s longstanding place on Notre-Dame. “It’s one of the few remaining businesses in St Henri that has not fallen due to gentrification.”
That message seems to have not been received by all: in an era where it’s exceedingly easy to bring a business down via the internet, New System’s Facebook page is slowly accumulating mixed reviews — although some, who wouldn’t recognize the point if it impaled them in the face, are trying to pretend that New System is being intimidated by politically correct thugs or some boogeyman that doesn’t actually exist beyond the pages of Le Journal de Montréal.