Transgender woman says Montreal restaurant tried to bar her from using women's washroom

A transgender woman is demanding an apology from a Montreal restaurant whose staff, she said, humiliated her when she used their washroom.

Incident sparks protest, calls for change at New System Bar-B-Q restaurant

Transgender rights activists protested outside a Montreal restaurant and stickered the windows. (CBC)

A transgender woman is demanding an apology from a restaurant in Montreal's Saint-Henri neighbourhood whose staff, she said, humiliated her when she used their washroom. 

Estelle Davis told CBC News she was chastised on Tuesday for using the women's washroom by employees of New System Bar-B-Q, located on Notre-Dame Street.

On her way to the bathroom, she said a staff member yelled at her from across the restaurant and told her that men were prohibited from entering.

"I looked back at her and said 'That's perfect cause I'm a woman, so I'm going to go use the washroom,'" said Davis.

"And she said 'No, that's for women. You're a man, you're not allowed to go in there.'"

Estelle Davis said New System Bar-B-Q staff tried to bar her from using the women's washroom. (CBC)

Davis chose to ignore the waitress and used the women's washroom. She also tried to talk to the staff after the incident, but said she was brushed off.

"I mean it's humiliating," she said. "Not only is that a complete denial of my person, but the restaurant was full of people."

Incident sparks protest

On Friday, several transgender rights activists protested outside New System Bar-B-Q and placed stickers on its windows. The activists then entered the restaurant. 

"What's happening here is discrimination for a trans woman," said Betty Iglesias, one of the activists at the protest. 

Estelle Davis described the ordeal as 'humiliating.' (CBC)

Davis's sister, Lenore Claire Herrem. said the experience at the restaurant represented a breaking point.

"It's degrading, it's disgustingly unfair," she said.

"It's time that the community knows that, starting with this awfully run establishment, that we're not going to be told which bathroom to use based on whether they think we should be allowed to or not."

With files from Neil Herland