There's a battle over bathrooms as a downtown bar owner takes a tough stance in the transgender debate.
Jake Gardner, co-owner of The Hive, took to Facebook this week, commenting on transgender people and their use of public restrooms. The comments ignited a conversation, spilling over from social media into restaurants around downtown.
"We fought so hard to get where we are now, that not standing here would be to turn a blind eye to this," Kahtya Tehnsion, a local drag queen, protesting at The Hive Sunday said.
Gardner wrote that he believed transgender people should only be allowed to use their restroom of choice if they had gender reassignment surgery, and their birth certificate and ID changed. He said in the post, “I'm not saying that trans folks are the danger but what I do know is that predators will use anything they can to gain access to victims.”
“We've got to start defining some of the boundaries here. We've got to close up some of the loopholes, and we've got to explain these things to society so everybody’s on the same page,” Gardner said in an interview Sunday.
Gardner went on to say he's met with members of the trans community since writing the post on social media, and he thinks the conversation is valuable.
“I'm definitely not going to back down on my stance, I think that it’s the right thing to do to start these conversations,” Gardner said.
Gardner also showed KETV Newswatch 7 construction underway to create unisex restrooms in the bar. The project was underway before the post on Facebook.
Members of the transgender community have expressed concerns. Eris Koleszar, a transgender woman and an advocate for transgender rights in restrooms, said her goal is to create a safe space for everyone.
“To be in the spaces where we don't identify, generally puts us at greater risk for abuse and harassment,” Koleszar said.
She said the comments on social media feel hurtful. "It's just kind of fear mongering," Koleszar said. "It's casting us as predators and it doesn't help forward the conversation."