Transgendered woman sues over use of bathroom

AUBURN — A Lewiston woman who was transitioning from being male to female is suing Denny's Restaurant in Auburn, claiming it discriminated against her when it barred her from the women's bathroom.

Brianna Freeman, 44, filed a civil suit Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court against Realty Resources Hospitality, doing business as Denny's of Auburn.

Freeman said she is a regular customer at the 211 Court St. restaurant and meets friends there for meals three to four times a week. In June or July 2007, Freeman met with the restaurant manager and explained that she was using the women's bathroom in accordance with her female gender identity, which was part of her medically recommended gender transition process. Freeman wears women's clothing, make-up, jewelry and perfume.

That manager, Ginger Smith, told Freeman she would be allowed to continue using the women's bathroom.

In October 2007, a new manager told Freeman she could no longer use the women's bathroom because Denny's perceived her as biologically male. She has been prohibited from using the women's room since because Denny's personnel view her as a man, the suit says.

Freeman continues to visit the restaurant, but has been forced to reduce the amount of time she spends there because of the new restriction, which poses a health and safety risk to her.

She was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder in 2007, "a rare but serious medical condition listed in a manual of mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association," the suit says. The disorder is characterized by persistent and often intense discomfort with one's assigned sex and with one's primary and secondary sex characteristics, the suit says. This conflict can create intense emotional pain and suffering that is intractable, severe and often incapacitating. If left medically untreated, this condition can result in dysfunction, debilitating depression and, for some people, incidents of self-harm, including suicide.

Freeman claims she was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation, a violation of state law, by not allowing her use of a public accommodation. She claims Denny's discriminated against her use of public accommodation based on her disability, also a violation of state law.

Freeman is seeking to have the court order Denny's to allow her to use the women's bathroom and award her civil penal, compensatory and punitive damages, including damages for mental anguish and emotional distress. She also is seeking to have the court order Denny's to pay her legal expenses.

The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled there were reasonable grounds to believe that Denny's discriminated against Freeman on the basis of sexual orientation, but not on the basis of disability.

Phone calls to Denny's for comment were not returned Friday.


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 's picture

Transgendered is one of the

Transgendered is one of the biggest crock-of-crap terms out there. Either you are male or female. And either you are happy about it or you are not. There are lots of people out there depressed for lots of reasons (infertility, death of a loved one, short stature, big breasted, etc. etc.) We can't expect restaraunts to refuse children because some infertile couple may be offended or uncomfortable... the infertile couple will just have to stay home or deal with it. It should be no different here. Just because he's depressed at being male doesn't mean that all us women should be forced to share a bathroom with a man. He should stay home or deal with it.

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Rich In my eyes If you were

In my eyes If you were born a with tool (and a sack with nuts) to stand up and hold onto while you pee... Your a MALE.. If you don't have one of these things and don't have a sack then your more then likely a "Female" What so hard about figuring that out??? Dam don't they have "Sex Ed" in school anymore?? and whats with the Mom's and Dad's explaining to thier Kids the diffrence between "Male and Female" Hey lets go one step further!! why don't we just have "All Resturants-Bars and other places of Buss add another Bathroom for those people that don't have a clue if thier "Male or Female"

 's picture

The individual might have a

The individual might have a case, but not with the law you are referring to. That law deals with employment, rental housing and real estate transactions.

 's picture

She identifies herself as a

She identifies herself as a woman, a female... and quite possibly since she was a little child. i think that this really doesn't matter if they have 'the stuff' or not-having 'the stuff' doesn't (in my eyes) dictate in anyone else's world, what bathroom to use or how to dress. despite having some kind of operation or not-its really no ones business if she wants to use the woman's restroom.

 's picture

sick and tired... yawn*

sick and tired... yawn*

 's picture

Brianna Freeman deserves to

Brianna Freeman deserves to be respected and treated like a human being. Unfortunately, suing Denny's may be what Transgendered community needs for companies to take them seriously. Discrimination has NO place in our State!


 's picture

Penal damages seem

Penal damages seem appropriate.

 's picture

momof4...........I pray to

momof4...........I pray to God that none of your children ever have to tell you that they are gay or struggling with some other sexual related issue. I have read so many of your comments on here and you are so closed minded and hateful!! I would feel so sad for your kids if one of them had to tell YOU they were gay. That would be worth then the trip to hell you'd tell them they were destined for.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Does Freeman have male or

Does Freeman have male or female sex organs? Case closed use the appropriate bathroom.


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