May 26, 2016
A Wilmington transgender woman claims she was harassed by the manager of a McDonald's in Paulsboro Wednesday afternoon as she used the women's restroom, according to a report from NBC10.
Misty Hill, 42, says she entered the restroom at around 4:30 p.m. and was followed inside by the manager, who asked her if a gentleman was in the stall. When she replied that she was a woman, the female manager allegedly left the bathroom and returned a minute later to ask again if she was a man.
Hill again said that she was a woman, at which point the manager told her, "You don't belong here."
In an interview with NBC10, Hill explained that she transitioned a little over a year ago and has been living as a women ever since. At the time of the incident, she said, she was wearing cargo shorts and no makeup—not her usual routine of a skirt and makeup. She added that transgender women are faced with a daily choice to spend the time doing makeup or deal with harassment in public.
After she was confronted by the manager, Hill said she attempted to show the manager her driver's license to prove her status as a woman. She claims the manager refused to take the license and asked her to leave the McDonald's. Hill then tweeted from the restaurant and tagged McDonald's to inform them about what happened.
Once more with feeling:— Heart of Platinum (@DiracDrynx) May 26, 2016
I DID NOT TALK TO A LITTLE GIRL.
THERE. WAS. NO. LITTLE. GIRL. TO. EVEN. TALK. TO.
The manager of the McDonald's, who has not been identified, later told NBC10 that a little girl was in the restroom at the time and that Hill attempted to chat with her. When the little girl told her mother, the manager says, she was made aware of Hill's presence and entered the bathroom to see what was happening. She added that she did not intend to be discriminatory and was simply attending to a concerned customer.
Hill has disputed the manager's story and says that she never saw or spoke with a little girl in the restroom.
According to NJ.com, John Durante, the owner/operator of the McDonald's in Paulsboro, issued a statement Thursday addressing the incident:
"As an independent owner/operator, I personally strive to be inclusive and accommodating to all of my customers as well as my employees. Yesterday, Ms. Hill was able to use the restroom of her choice as is permitted under New Jersey Law. It is regrettable that a misunderstanding between her and another customer then ensued."
Hill told NBC10 she plans to take legal action and obtain surveillance video from the restroom to prove harassment and discrimination.
The incident comes amid a national debate over the rights of transgender people to use public restrooms according to their gender identification — most notably in North Carolina, where the recently signed Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act has elicited an intense backlash.
While New Jersey does not have any specific law regulating transgender rights in public bathrooms, the state's anti-discrimination law prohibits business serving the general public from withholding accommodations based on their gender identity.