Last month, trans customer Gray Glitterpunk was told by the manager of BLOC+, a city-centre bar, that he should stop using the men’s bathroom and “use the correct bathroom”. Glitterpunk explained that he was a transgender man, to which the manager responded: “You’re not a man, you’re a woman”. The confrontation was then described and shared widely on social media.
BLOC+’s venue manager Chris Cusack later published an online statement of apology following several dozen negative reviews berating BLOC+ for the manager’s actions, expressing remorse at the incident as well as taking issue with the “hateful, crusading bile” he feels has been unfairly levelled at the bar.
BLOC+’s lengthy statement noted that the actions of one “tired manager” should not have sparked the comments and reviews they then received over what he deemed to be an “embarrassing error.” BLOC+ has since manually deleted most of these negative reviews.
The statement read, “As has become so blindingly apparent from some of the more obnoxious comments on our page and in private messages, a portion of the furious commentators were not in the venue let alone privy to the exchange at the centre of the controversy. The online rules of “share and shame” swiftly came into play.
“But here’s the thing. The public [are] not entitled to an apology. To these people I say, this is not about you. Fuck you. These people are the mob.
“These are not heroes, or gallant defenders of one individual’s honour here. They are a seething mass of vicarious outrage and hammered share buttons, fuelled by a desperate need to internalise someone else’s offence: to re-appropriate a private transgression as a badge of virtue. Another sorry reminder of identity politics run amuck online.
“Staged shows of public humility are for footballers and G1, so an open apology to “the public” will not be forthcoming. It’s not that we are above apologising when it’s due and to the people who actually were wronged and actually deserve it. Our discussion today with the person originally insulted was both conciliatory and productive on both sides. But in this scenario broadcasting acts of self-immolation and contrition would frankly stink of saving face and cold, corporate, damage-limitation. And who’s to say it would even be enough? Why stop there? Why not just strip us naked and march us through King’s Landing whilst crowds scream “shame” and throw shit at us?”
A few days after the altercation, BLOC+ met with Glitterpunk in an attempt to resolve the situation. The bar expressed that it intends to pursue better training for their staff, and say they have asked the Scottish Transgender Alliance for assistance.
When questioned about the events, Glitterpunk explained that BLOC+’s public apology has made matters worse for him. He said, “The entire debacle has in fact made me frightened to use the men's bathrooms, and I end up using the women's for safety. So every time I'm out in public and use the bathroom I'm reminded of the whole thing.” Even a month later, he remains affected by what was deemed an insignificant remark and states: “It's so easy for everyone to just forget about it and move on, when I'm still so angry about it all.”
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