A Mississippi woman’s weekly visit to the Gold Strike Casino was ruined when a security guard confronted her when she tried to use the restroom.
Alexus Tate was at the casino on Black Friday, and when nature called, she headed to the ladies’ room. When Tate walked out of the restroom, the guard was waiting.
"The security guard stops me and says, 'You don't belong in there," she told WREG.
"In front of everybody literally holds up her hand and goes like this to me. No! That's not how it goes," she continued.
A janitor told Tate the guard made a derogatory comment as she entered the facility.
"As you were walking in the bathroom, she stopped me and said, 'Why is it in there?'" she recalled.
Tate and a friend reported the staff member and in the following weeks maintained contact with the casino. They refused to get rid of the security guard and offered free perks.
"She offered me some free plays, some hotel. I'm like, I already get all of that stuff," Tate said.
The calls suddenly stopped in December. The incident left Tate traumatized.
"I couldn't sleep. I've never been embarrassed like that before,” she said. “Tears started falling down my eyes because it's like, it just hits me.”
MGM Resorts released a statement insisting the establishment is inclusive.
“Inclusion is a core value for MGM Resorts, and all security officers are trained on our company’s policy of allowing guests to utilize public restrooms based on the gender with which they identify,” it read. “Unfortunately, the security officer involved in this incident did not respond appropriately. The security officer in question was immediately corrected, the policy was clarified to the guest by a supervisor at the time of the incident, and the security officer involved was disciplined accordingly. We sincerely regret this incident and have apologized to the guest. We hope for the opportunity to make up for her poor guest experience.”
The incident doesn't mark the first time transphobia reared its ugly head in Mississippi. Outgoing Governor Phil Bryant is openly against hiring protections for transgender people, according to The Jackson Free Press. Last September, he was one of 15 Republicans who signed a brief arguing the Civil Rights Act doesn’t include transgender people.
"When Congress enacted Title VII, ... the understanding of the word 'sex' did not include the expansion of that word to include 'gender identity,'" the brief read. "The term 'gender identity,' or as the 6th Circuit labels it, 'transgender' and 'transitioning status,' are not found in the text or legislative history of Title VII." The measure was struck down.
In 2016, a religious freedom bill made it legal for merchants to refuse service based on their religious beliefs. The law protects three specific ideas: sex is “reserved for marriage,” marriage is “the union of one man and one woman,” and gender is unchangeable.
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