Trans musician Simona Castricum was left humiliated after a nightclub guard stopped her from using the women’s bathroom, saying she should use the men’s facilities.
Castricum, a pioneering Australian musician and DJ, was stopped from using the bathroom in a club in Melbourne, Victoria, early Monday morning (8 March).
A security guard at Yah Yah’s, a popular rock n’ roll venue in the Fitzroy neighbourhood, cornered Castricum.
“You’re a man, go to the men’s bathroom now,” he said, Castricum recalled to the newspaper The Age.
Owners of the venue have admitted to the “very embarrassing” incident and vowed to better train security guards on trans-inclusive policies.
Local queer advocates responded with alarm to the news, noting that the bar is in a beloved LGBT+ nightlife district long regarded as a safe space for residents.
Venues must be inclusive ‘not just on queer nights’, says Simona Castricum
Castricum, also known by her stage name Fluorescent and as a member of the band Ana Nicole, explained that a “male security guard stood in the doorway of the women’s bathroom and pointed at me and yelled at me quite aggressively ‘out of the bathroom'”.
“I’m a woman, I’m a trans woman,” she replied. But the security staff continued to misgender her.
“It really is such an indignity to have your gender questioned in front of an entire bathroom full of people,” Castricum said.
“It’s also really frightening. Yah Yah’s has obviously got a problem.
“It’s incumbent on the management to make sure that the message gets down to security.”
She called on queer Victorians not to boycott the bar, but instead for Yah’s Yah’s management to take action.
“Rather than a name and shame, cancel [or] call-out, I’m looking at Yah Yah’s to lead by example, commit to education and accountability and change their culture so that any trans and gender diverse person on any night will feel safe as the venue moves forward,” she said.
“Not just on queer nights. Every night is queer and trans night in Smith Street.”
Yah-Yah’s owner embarrassed by incident
Yah Yah’s co-owner James Young sought to highlight the venue’s gender-neutral bathroom policy on Thursdays during its LGBT+ club night.
“It’s embarrassing for us,” Young acknowledge, “Yah Yah’s and Thursgay is one of the best practice venues in Melbourne and in Australia.
“The guard was reprimanded and he apologised to the guest. Simona is a very welcome guest.”
Young also pledged to have his staff trained with Transgender Victoria, one of the state’s top trans rights advocacy groups and a torchbearer in employment diversity guidelines.
“It’s vital, and not just at workplaces that happen to be running a gay night, it’s all workplaces, it’s universal training,” he said.
“This is a very embarrassing incident for me and the bar, and we have to welcome it as a learning experience with something very positive to come out of it.”
Victorian Pride Lobby, a grassroots LGBT+ campaign group, told The Age that it was disappointed the incident occurred, and only days after Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
“Smith Street is one of Melbourne’s treasured LGBT+ nightlife precincts and it is up to the entire community to take responsibility for creating venues, businesses and spaces that are safe, inclusive and responsive to trans and gender-diverse people and all members of the LGBTIQA+ community,” it said.
“We call for venues, businesses and spaces to expand their efforts on LGBTIQA+ inclusion on Smith Street, in the City of Yarra and across the state.”