NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A transgender man is suing the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, claiming he was kicked out of a men’s locker room at a public pool on Staten Island.
Bryan John Ellicott, who works for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, filed the lawsuit Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The 24-year-old claims that on July 21, 2013 three parks department workers violated his civil rights and discriminated against him based on his gender when he visited the Joseph H. Lyons Pool.
Ellicott claims the workers kicked him out of the men’s locker room.
“They made an assumption and I didn’t give them any documentation they didn’t ask for,” Ellicott said. “They gave me the option of going to the women’s locker room or leaving and I just left. I picked up my stuff and left.”
EXTRA: Read The Complaint (pdf)
Ellicott, who has been living openly as a male since 2012, is currently transitioning from female to male, but has yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
“Like hundreds of other New Yorkers that day, I was just trying get some relief from the sweltering heat and enjoy an afternoon at the pool,” Bryan said. “Instead, I was singled out by pool staff because I am transgender. They harassed and humiliated me. No one deserves to be treated that way, but it’s an all-too-common experience for transgender people like me when we use restrooms and locker rooms.”
Ellicott chose his male name in honor of his father, a 9/11 first responder.
The lawsuit notes that Ellicott’s doctor recognizes him as male, and his sex is also listed as male on his New York State driver’s license.
“A lot of my friends have taken a long time to get to understand how this goes and how I’ve become the way I am now and that I just want to be treated like everyone else and hang out with them without worrying about being discriminated,” Ellicott said.
Michael Silverman, of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, told 1010 WINS they are asking the New York courts to rule for the first time ever that transgender people are protected by the Human Rights Law when using restrooms or locker rooms that match their sex.
“Incidents like this one severely restrict the ability of transgender people to fully participate in society,” Silverman stated. “Being able to use a restroom without harassment and discrimination is essential to being able to do things like work or use public places. This lawsuit sends a strong message: everyone should have equal access to public facilities. Transgender people cannot be treated as less than full citizens and be denied the use of restrooms and locker rooms just because of who they are.”
Ellicott claims he has not used public pools since the incident and also tries to avoid using public restrooms.
A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department said, “We will review the lawsuit when we are served.”
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