Karen Clarke-McIlwain and Dani Dominick had an unorthodox introduction last June.
Dominick, living in Windsor at the time, posted a line on Kijiji identifying herself as transgendered and in need of a place to live in London. Clarke-McIlwain responded, acknowledging she didn’t know what “trans” meant but had a room to offer.
So goes the beginning of the story that has the women filing complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The complaints come after Trails End decided Dominick ‘ and two other transgendered people ‘ couldn’t staff Clarke-McIlwain’s booth at the Dundas Street farmers market.
“I’ve filed lots and lots of human-rights cases against people and companies, and never once in all of eternity have I had a slam dunk like this,” said Michelle Boyce, executive director of a nonprofit that works with the LGBT community.
Boyce started working on the complaint Sept. 10, the same day a Trails End manager told Clarke-McIlwain that transgendered people weren’t welcome. Dominick had been staffing the both all summer, Boyce said.
Ed Kikkert, the market’s owner, stands firmly behind the decision, saying he received multiple complaints about the “men dressed as women.”
One of his biggest concerns?
“If they have to go to the washroom, what washroom would they use?” Kikkert said Thursday. “I run a family market, and when I get complaints like that I have to deal with it.”
Clarke-McIlwain had operated True 2 You, a candle and incense business, at Trails End for three years.
Keeping the business open would be against her “moral principles” and she would be violating the law by not allowing Dominick to work there, Boyce said.
- More than 1,000 people have signed a petition at
change.org to speak out against what happened at Trails End.
petition is meant to send the message that it’s “discriminatory to
forbid certain individuals” for doing business at an establishment.