Justice

Woman Was Denied by an Airbnb Host for Being Transgender

June 6th 2016

By:
Alex Mierjeski

Transgender people face baseless discrimination in even the most rote daily activities — certainly more than when they're just trying to pee.

Shadi Petosky, a trans woman, knows this all too well. Recently, Petosky was denied service by an Airbnb host after telling the host she was trans.

Shadi's tweet had more than 1,000 retweets less than 20 hours after it was posted. It includes a screenshot of a conversation in which the host allegedly explains why she denied Petosky's room request.

"I really appreciate your honesty. I'll have to pass though, but thank you," the message reads. "I have a 13-year-old boy going through puberty. I don't want him to feel any discomforts in his own home. Again, thanks for your inquiry & your honesty!"

In a follow-up tweet, Petosky highlighted the "'dangerous to kids'" trope that is central to much of the discriminatory rhetoric lobbed at LGBT people — especially during recent debates over bathroom and locker room use.

In response to her story, some criticized her for disclosing her trans status in the first place, accusing her of fishing for controversy. But Petosky noted that disclosure is a necessity for many trans women who wish to avoid dangerous situations.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), transgender women — specifically transgender women of color — face serious safety risks, with 33 deaths reported between 2013 and 2015. News reports have also highlighted a problem that seems to be rising as transgender issues get more visibility.

The exchange between Petosky and the Airbnb host highlights an ongoing national conversation about the many ways LGBT people face discrimination in everyday scenarios. (The Airbnb host who declined to rent Petosky a room has since been booted from the service, BuzzFeed News reported.)

"Discrimination has no place in the Airbnb community. We are removing this host from Airbnb," Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas told ATTN: in an email.

This isn't the first time Petosky claimed to have experienced discrimination because of her transgender status in an otherwise common situation. In September of last year, she gained notoriety for live tweeting a detention by TSA agents "because of an 'anomaly' (my penis)," one tweet read.

As a national debate over LGBT discrimination roils, there are troubling gaps in official record-keeping of LGBT harassment, even as states that have adopted legislation curtailing LGBT rights face accusations of discrimination by the federal government.

"We know the numbers are far higher than that," the NCTE's Harper Jean Tobin told a Congressional forum on trans violence last year. "Even the FBI will admit the data are collected and reported so inconsistently as to render them almost meaningless."