A transgender customer at a Montreal Walmart has filed a discrimination complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission after alleging he was publicly berated by a worker there after using the bathroom.
Seth Day identifies as transgender and uses "he" and "they" pronouns, reported CTV News. "For me, that means that I don't identify as a man or woman, sort of somewhere in between. And in terms of expression, I have a beard, but I also dress very feminine," he said.
Day said that for this reason, he doesn't always use the same bathroom. On August 25, while getting groceries at the store located at 5400 Jean-Talon West, he decided to use the women's bathroom.
Day says that after he left the bathroom and resumed shopping, he was confronted by an employee of the Walmart who demanded to know his sex. The employee, reportedly an assistant manager, told Day he couldn't use the bathroom because it was making other people uncomfortable.
"To which I responded that there was no gender-neutral bathroom or family bathroom. ... What bathroom am I supposed to use, then? What about my comfort as a client?" Day said.
"It was really traumatic and stressful, being treated so unkindly," he said.
Day says he found a general manager who apologized for the incident, but he wasn't able to get answers regarding how his experience wouldn't reoccur with other trans customers.
In a statement to CTV, Walmart Canada told the outlet that "respect for the individual is one of the company's core values."
"We are committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our associates and our customers. We take matters of this nature very seriously and are looking into this customer’s experience," wrote Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs Stephanie Fusco.
Day said he hopes that retailers will educate employees about gender identity and expression.
"Imagine you were just going to the bathroom and someone was asking what genitals you had. That's so wild when you frame it like that, but I feel like it's dehumanizing, right?" he said.
"When you're doing things like that to trans people, it's acting like trans people are less than, if you wouldn't do that to someone else," said Day.
James Galantino, director of the LGBT Quebec Council, said that the alleged incident was a clear example of discrimination. Discrimination based on gender identity or expression is prohibited according to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act, he said. He stated that this "gives access to a trans person to use the bathroom they're comfortable to use."
"Trans and non-binary people have a very, very common basic need and that is to pee — to pee in peace just like everyone else," Galantino said.