Medicine Hat bouncer resigns, responds to transgender woman’s accusations
Published Thursday, July 28, 2016 8:41PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, July 29, 2016 7:33PM MDT
The bouncer involved in a recent dispute at the Corona Tavern in Medicine Hat has resigned from his position in order to circumvent the alleged gag order imposed on staff by the bar’s owners in connection with accusations of transphobia.
Peter Smith provided ownership with his two week notice of resignation on Thursday so he could tell his side of the story.
River Rising, a transgender Calgarian, says she was told by bar staff that she could not use the women’s washroom during a recent visit to the Corona Tavern. A sign was later posted on the washroom doors informing patrons that they ‘must use the bathroom of your birth gender’. The sign was attributed to ‘management’.
Smith says he was asked by bar management to talk to River.
"I asked her about her surgery," said Smith. "Had she answered post-op, it would have ended there. I asked to clarify the matter. Had she said post-op, use the woman's bathroom all you want. She identified herself to me as a male."
According to Smith, River expressed concerns for her safety and the bouncer offered to personally escort her to the men’s room.
Smith, who says he is a friend of the LGBTQ community, says he became upset when River’s friends began to swear at him, calling him a homophobe and a transphobe.
“And worst of all, they called me a hateful bigot,” recalls Smith. “Anybody who knows me knows I’m none of those things.”
“That hurts (coming) from a group that wants tolerance and respect. To spew hatred at me and take a personal attack on me, sorry, it doesn’t help.”
Smith says he has been unable to sleep since the accusations surfaced in the media.
The soon-to-be former bouncer says he reached out to the president of Medicine Hat Pride who reassured him that he had not done anything wrong.
Medicine Hat Pride Association (MHPA) officials say their association does not condone the actions of Smith or the Corona Tavern. The group hopes the unfortunate situate will spark meaningful conversations on acceptance.
"People are actually getting engaged and becoming aware of the issues that our trans brothers and sisters face on a daily basis," said Adam Rogers of the MHPA. "This is an everyday occurrence for them and most of us just don't even think about it."
The MHPA will host an information session on Friday, August 5 at the Medicine Hat College Theatre from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Since the incident, the Corona Tavern has designated one of its washrooms as gender neutral.