Transgender community protests against 'discrimination' outside Holbrook pub

Katherine Weller, 44, of West Babylon, center, supported Katherine Weller, 44, of West Babylon, center, supported transgender community members in a protest outside the Irish Times Pub in Holbrook on Friday, April 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

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Several dozen transgender community members and their supporters chanted "No bias, no violence, no more" as they protested Friday on Holbrook's Main Street outside a pub that they said discriminated against one of their own.

The nearly 40 people held placards with messages such as "Stop violence," "Trans rights are civil rights" and "Treat everyone with respect," saying the demonstration would be the start of increased activism for their group on Long Island.

The protest stemmed from an alleged incident on March 14, when West Sayville resident Andi Dier said she was denied admission at The Irish Times Pub in Holbrook.

Dier, 21, said bouncers at the pub refused her entrance and took her ID from her, held her against a door and insisted on referring to her as a male against her wishes. She said she felt "unsafe" and embarrassed when bouncers kept her from joining a birthday celebration at the pub to which she was invited.

"Trans people face so much discrimination, so much violence, so much bias -- and this is just one instance of one trans person's life," Dier said at the demonstration.

Pub employees said management was unavailable to comment Friday. A Suffolk County Police Department spokeswoman said a complaint was filed on April 8 and was referred to the hates crime unit. The incident was considered "non-criminal," she said.

Protesters said they were bringing attention to the case to highlight the challenges faced by New York's transgender residents, who have been seeking legislative reform in Albany to ban discrimination based on gender identity.

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Juli Grey-Owens, of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, which organized the protest, said that without a statewide ban on transgender discrimination and enforcement mechanisms, the community remains vulnerable.

"It's not only just about the Irish Times Pub. It's about the fact that transgender people are not being treated with the full respect and dignity," Grey-Owens said. "We don't have the equality and justice that we deserve."

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