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ACLU Calls for Greater Trans Inclusivity at Coachella Festival

Coachella

The ACLU have put Coachella and its parent company, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, on warning.

According to a letter sent from California’s American Civil Liberties Union to the Anschutz Group and Goldenvoice, another company involved in the music festival’s production, during the 2018 Coachella festival, security guards denied two transgender siblings — Donavion “Navi” Huskey and Taiyande “Juice” Huskey — access to bathrooms that reflect their gender.  

According to the letter, on the day of Beyonce’s headlining performance, Navi, a transgender woman, was denied entry to the women’s restroom by a security guard and was so upset by the incident, she did not use the restroom for the rest of the night. She only used portable toilets at the festival entrance for the remainder of her time at the event.

Juice, who is transmasculine, experienced an instance of discrimination the next day. While no one in the bathroom line objected to him using the men’s restroom — Navi also said no one but the security guard objected to her using the women’s restroom — a security guard said that he was in the wrong restroom. The guard then said, according to the letter, that he would show Juice to a gender-neutral restroom. After escorting him out the back exit, the guard reportedly left and said nothing more.

“No one should be treated the way Navi and Juice were at Coachella 2018, either at a future Coachella festival or at any of the other concerts and venues under the ownership or control of AEG, AEG Presents, Goldenvoice, and their various affiliated entities,” the ACLU says. The holdings of of those companies are vast.  Rather than pursuing a lawsuit against the event, the California legal advocacy group is asking the festival to make clear and enforce restroom policies that, in accordance with California law, allow all people to use the restroom that matches their gender. The letter demands that the event share its restroom policy publicly and train all 2019 staff and contractors on said policy.

According to Coachella’s FAQ, the festival offers “free, separate male, female and gender neutral private bathrooms and showers” to festival goers, and that “gender-neutral restrooms will be available and may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression.” The FAQ does not, however, make any mention about gender-designated bathrooms being available to everyone regardless of their gender or gender expression.

In a statement to Out, a spokesperson for Coachella called the siblings’ experiences “unacceptable” and said they were taking “deliberate steps” to ensure that the occurrences do not repeat.

“This is not reflective of the safe and inclusive festival culture that we strive for, and this behavior is intolerable,” the spokesperson said. The festival added that it was reaching out to Navi and Juice to help craft the training.

Coachella has previously drawn the ire of the LGBTQ+ community because Philip Anschutz, owner of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, has given money to several anti-LGBTQ+ organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Freedom Research Council, both classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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