A transgender woman says she was groped by a stranger and called homophobic and transphobic slurs by a group of friends at Dallas BBQ in Times Square, and that management didn’t go far enough to ensure her safety.
Andre St. Clair is a self-described artist and advocate living in New York City, where she works in event management and fundraising for LGBTQ organizations.
On Saturday night, January 16, she dined at Dallas BBQ Times Square with friends. As she walked through the restaurant to meet other friends she spotted at the location, she says she was grabbed aggressively by a stranger:
“As I’m passing the table to walk over, the guy grabbed my thigh. Yes, in a sexually aggressive manner. I slapped his hand away and said ‘do not touch me.’ There were two females in the group I think, and one said ‘ooooh she said do not touch her.’”
St. Clair thought that was the end of the incident, but unfortunately it wasn’t:
“So the guy comes over to the table and strokes my arm. I said ‘do not touch me. I already told you once, do not touch me…’ He proceeds to ask me…’you can’t get mad at me for this, I just need to know…are you a man or a woman?’ I said ‘do not come over to my table and ask me such a ridiculous question.’ And I asked ‘are YOU a man or a woman?’”
At that point, the man retreated, but St. Clair found herself livid at her mistreatment both as a transgender person and as a woman. She then returned to the table to confront the group, which she says was comprised of about six to eight African-American or Latino men and women:
“It was that thing where a man thinks he can touch a woman any time he wants to. So when they started laughing and turning around at us I actually did go over to them and said to the group ‘this is ridiculous, you can’t do this to people, and you’re all assholes.’ At that point, people started getting irate, I went back to my table and they started yelling homophobic and transphobic slurs.”
“Both of my friends got up to say ‘this isn’t right, we’re just trying to enjoy our meal and you’re harassing us.’ At this point security has still not come over. So one man comes over and like ‘it’s just that my boy was feeling her or him or whatever’ and at that point my friend Giselle explains to management what’s going on.”
St. Clair and friends wanted the offending group removed from the restaurant completely, but management and security simply moved them to another part of the restaurant. When they objected, they were dismissed by Dallas BBQ’s security team and manager and told to “call the police.”
— Giselle Phelps (@GisellePhelps) January 17, 2016
Our sister site Queerty reached out to the Times Square Dallas BBQ General Manager Carlos Guidel for his take on the incident, and he insisted nothing happened. (It’s unclear whether or not the man in the video is Guidel.)
Here’s the exchange that followed:
Guidel: “Sir, how can I comment on something that didn’t happen? Nothing happened.”
Queerty: “So there was nobody that came to you and shared that they were physically threatened at the restaurant?”
Guidel: “Sir, once again, are you fishing and asking for me to comment on something that didn’t happen? Nothing happened!”
Queerty: “Well, you’re telling me that someone was asked whether they were a man or woman… so something happened.”
Guidel: “Well, didn’t I tell you that already? And I said to you that’s all that happened. Nothing else happened. I told you what happened, and that’s what happened.”
Queerty: “So nobody asked you to remove anyone else?”
Guidel: “Yeah, the lady was offended about the question and she asked me to remove the people, so I moved them to the other side of the restaurant. That’s it.”
Queerty: “But you didn’t remove them from the restaurant.”
Guidel: “For asking a question like that?”
Queerty: “So you decided not to remove them even though she said she was physically threatened?”
Guidel: “She wasn’t physically threatened. See, you’re trying to fish and make me say something. Nothing happened. That’s all that happened. Do you want me to make up a story for you and tell you that something did happen?”
Queerty: “I don’t want you to make up a story at all.”
Guidel: “I’m giving you direct answers and you’re asking me to elaborate. Nothing happened sir, that’s all that happened. That’s it. There were no threats, no violence, no crime committed, nothing happened. I separated the tables and that’s it, sir.”
So, there you have it.
This incident is a stark reminder of the real-world harassment transgender people go through every day. How many trans women face behavior like this before things turn violent?
St. Clair has sent a formal letter of complaint to the executive management of Dallas BBQ and is mulling what further action she will take.