Update: Cosmopolitan Hotel public relations director Amy Rossetti responded to our request for comment. Please see her statement at the bottom of this piece.
A story today on the travel site Hotelchatter.com relates an ugly-sounding incident at the 6-month-old Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. Writer Juliab (also known as Julia Buckley, editor of the Condé Nast Digital site Vegaschatter.com) says the hotel's security banned her friend Stephanie, a transgender woman from New York, from the hotel for life after Stephanie used the women's room. While that's not as horrifying as last week's attack on a transgender woman in a McDonald's bathroom, it's in the same ballpark, and is definitely out of character for a new hotel, owned by a multinational bank, that presents itself as edgy, hip, and gay-friendly.
You can read Buckley's full account of what happened on Hotelchatter.com, but the basic story is this: Stephanie went to the women's room at about 4 a.m. after a few drinks at the bar. When she exited the room, two male security guards were there to intercept her. They marched her outside while demanding her identification, which she found in her purse once they were outside the hotel.
"One of the guards checks it, establishes that her legal gender is male, and pulls out a yellow form from his pocket and starts writing in her details to the blank spaces. As he does so, he says, 'Are you working?' Way to add insult to injury. She doesn’t say 'Well as it happens, yes I am working, at the conference, douchebag.' She says no." The guard handed her a trespass warning to sign, and told her that if she returned, she would be arrested.
Buckley says she wrote to the Cosmopolitan about the incident and includes the following response in her post:
We regret that any guest may have had an unfortunate [ed: !!!!!] experience at The Cosmopolitan. All guests are welcome to experience the city's newest luxury resort. Our guests' safety, comfort and enjoyment always remains our top priority.
The resort contains numerous public restroom facilities that guests can use at their discretion as well as numerous private family restrooms throughout. Additionally, The Cosmopolitan is a TAG approved resort.
Now, a mini-firestorm is brewing on Twitter and in the comments at Hotelchatter. Calls to boycott the hotel are spreading through the social networking site, and the comments following Buckley's article smack of indignation and insult. One user writes, "I guess I'll take my 600-person convention I was planning on booking there, elsewhere."
But, as Buckley points out, "a Vegas casino can ban you for whatever reason – if it doesn’t like your face, your style of gambling, your dress sense, or the fact that you’re transgender and you dared to use an empty women’s restroom."
Both the attack at McDonald's and the incident at the Cosmopolitan happened in states where legislation specifically protecting transgender has been considered, but not passed. Maureen Dowd notes that "A week before the attack, Maryland’s Senate shelved a measure extending anti-discrimination protections to people who openly change their gender identity." In Nevada, three pieces of transgender-rights legislation are winding their way through the state legislature. But without that legislation in place it is difficult for transgendered people to prove discrimination, and many will have a hard choice to make when it comes time to use the restroom.
The Cosmopolitan's Rossetti had this to say:
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is committed to maintaining a community that recognizes and values the inherent dignity of every person, by fostering sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect of our guests and employees.
We sincerely regret any misunderstanding or inappropriate actions that any member of our staff may have taken. And to ensure increased sensitivity within this area, the organization will focus on continued training and on-going awareness initiatives. In addition, we apologize to the individual guest and welcome her back to the resort anytime.
Again, we would like to apologize to the LGBT community and anyone concerned and hope to demonstrate our firm dedication to fair and unbiased treatment of all.