A transgender advocacy group was kicked out of a hotel in Montgomery, Alabama, after an intoxicated guest harassed several of the group’s members while they were attending a conference at the hotel.
The Knights & Orchids Society, Inc., or TKO, a Selma-based grassroots startup founded and led by Black queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming people, was attending a work retreat at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in downtown Montgomery earlier this month.
A guest, who was “visibly drunk,” began harassing a TKO employee, publicly humiliating her, misgendering her, and using transphobic slurs, according to Montgomery-based NBC affiliate WSFA.
When the TKO employee complained to hotel management, the hotel asked the transgender group to leave and threatened her with arrest if police were called, according to a group Facebook post.
The group said police detained the man who had allegedly harassed the TKO employee, but eventually released him without charging him.
“TKO’s youth ambassadors were also present to witness this unfolding, and one of them let us know that they have been considering transitioning, but they feel it’s far too dangerous to be Black and openly trans,” TKO wrote in the post. “Our trans youth can’t envision a future where they will be safe because instances like this happen far too often and can lead to even worse outcomes.”
Quentin Bell, the executive director of TKO, called on those with power to take action to combat discrimination that all too frequently affects the transgender community.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, and it has happened far too often with other businesses as well,” Bell told Alabama Media Group. “There has to be change, and we need the cooperation of city leaders to make that happen.”
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed denounced the incident on social media, tweeting, “I am disappointed to hear about the treatment of The Knights and Orchids Society on a recent visit to our city. Discrimination — of any kind — is unacceptable. We are committed to working with our partners to be a more inclusive community. This shows us the hard work remains.”
I am disappointed to hear about the treatment of The Knights and Orchids Society on a recent visit to our city. Discrimination — of any kind — is unacceptable. We are committed to working with our partners to be a more inclusive community. This shows us the hard work remains. SR
— Mayor Steven L. Reed (@MayorofMgm) December 23, 2021
TKO later said they had set up a meeting with the hotel to discuss their concerns.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott released a statement in response to the incident.
“We are committed to providing an environment where all of our guests and employees feel safe and welcome,” the statement read. “We are aware that the handling of a recent verbal altercation between guests cause offense. We regret this, and are communicating directly with the guests involved to understand their experience.”
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