Here’s what happened. Stephanie goes to the Cosmo in the early hours of the morning – about 2.30am. She sits down at the Vesper Bar, in the lobby of the hotel, and orders drinks. Her drinks are good, the barman is pleasant, all is well. And then, at 4am, she realizes she needs the bathroom.
She goes, as is her wont, to the women’s restroom, just across from the bar. It’s empty, as you’d expect at 4am on a Monday. Not a single person in there. She powders her nose and exits the restroom, only to be met by two security guards who immediately say “Come with us” and start marching her out of the hotel. As they walk her, they demand to see her ID (to establish her legal gender). It’s in her purse, and she fumbles for it as she’s being forcibly marched through the lobby of the hotel. As she fumbles, one of the men tells her to hurry up. She is scared, and starts apologizing, saying she’s not trying to cause trouble, but it’s hard to walk and look for her ID at the same time.
They march her outside the hotel (the bathroom is near the main entrance) and she finds her ID. One of the guards checks it, establishes that her legal gender is male, and pulls out a yellow form from his pocket and starts writing in her details to the blank spaces. As he does so, he says, “Are you working?” Way to add insult to injury. She doesn’t say “Well as it happens, yes I am working, at the conference, douchebag.” She says no.
He hands her the yellow piece of paper, tells her it’s a legal document, and reads her what it says. This is what it says:
As a duly appointed representative of the owner of this property, I hereby warn you that you are trespassing on this property as defined by the Nevada Revised Statute 207.200. If you do not leave these premises immediately, you will be subject to arrest for a misdemeanor. Your subsequent return to the premises after being duly warned not to return will subject you to immediate arrest for trespassing.
Then the security guard says, “Do you understand? You are banned for life from this hotel, and if you ever return, you will be arrested.” Stephanie says yes, she understands. He gets her to sign it, and hands her a copy. He photographs her and her driver’s license. Then he points to the taxi rank and tells her to get the hell out.
Banned. For life. See, Vegas doesn’t have the same decide-yourself bathroom law as New York. And since Vegas rules date back to Mob days and are therefore kinda, uhh, different from those in other places, a little known fact is that a Vegas casino can ban you for whatever reason – if it doesn’t like your face, your style of gambling, your dress sense, or the fact that you’re transgender and you dared to use an empty women’s restroom. Just one security guard taking a dislike to you can have you banned from that property for life.
(This is why, incidentally, we happen to know that another hotel in Vegas specifically includes LGBT issues in its staff training sessions – including trans use of bathrooms, which security guards are supposed to allow.)
We asked the Cosmopolitan what their LGBT policy was, and whether they have a predefined stance on trans bathroom use (like this other hotel). Incidentally, the Cosmo has been pushing itself in the gay community, advertising in Advocate and OUT and getting itself TAG approved (two of the things a hotel must do to be TAG approved include “enforcing non-discriminatory policies including ‘sexual orientation’” and “providing LGBT diversity and sensitivity training for employees”.) Additionally, Deutsche Bank, which owns the Cosmopolitan, rates 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index which “rates American workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.” So they've been hammering home the old gay-friendly stance.
Anyways, the Cosmo said this:
We regret that any guest may have had an unfortunate [ed: !!!!!] experience at The Cosmopolitan. All guests are welcome to experience the city's newest luxury resort. Our guests' safety, comfort and enjoyment always remains our top priority.
The resort contains numerous public restroom facilities that guests can use at their discretion as well as numerous private family restrooms throughout. Additionally, The Cosmopolitan is a TAG approved resort.
Yup, everyone is welcome, except if you’re transgendered and need to pee.
Only in Vegas, eh?
Update: 4.27.11, 8:30PM EST : The Cosmopolitan has released a lengthier statement on the incident.
"The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is committed to maintaining a community that recognizes and values the inherent dignity of every person, by fostering sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect of our guests and employees. We sincerely regret any misunderstanding or inappropriate actions that any member of our staff may have taken. And to ensure increased sensitivity within this area, the organization will focus on continued training and on-going awareness initiatives. In addition, we apologize to the individual guest and welcome her back to the resort anytime. Again, we would like to apologize to the LGBT community and anyone concerned and hope to demonstrate our firm dedication to fair and unbiased treatment of all." - The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas