Transgender Woman Says Employer Forces Her To Use Men’s Room

CHICAGO (STMW) – A west suburban transgender woman has filed two charges of discrimination with the state against the Aurora arts and crafts store she has worked at for a number of years, stating that management has barred her from using the women’s restroom and threatened her with further disciplinary action if she were to use the women’s room in the future.

Meggan Sommerville of Oswego was born Mark Sommerville, according to the charges filed in April with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).

Sommerville has worked for Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts supply store, in Aurora “for a number of years,” according to her lawyer, Betty Tsamis. In July of 2010, Sommerville began to transition from male to female, the charges state.

Later that month, Sommerville legally changed her name from Mark Thomas Sommerville to Meggan Renee Sommerville, as well as having her Illinois Driver’s License reflect the name change and its gender marker changed from male to female.

Though she has had her name changed, her state driver’s license states she is female, and Sommerville is female in her appearance, Hobby Lobby management has prohibited Meggan from using the women’s restroom in the store where she works and has been forced to use the men’s restroom, according to Tsamis.

On February 23 this year, Sommerville couldn’t wait for the men’s room to be vacant and used the women’s restroom, the charge stated. She was written up by her manager for using the women’s room.

Sommerville has subsequently modified her workplace intake of fluids to minimize being forced to use the men’s restroom and she waits for her lunch break to walk to a nearby business to use its women’s restroom, a release from her lawyer said.

If forced to use the men’s restroom, Sommerville waits until there are no men using the facility. This arrangement, she claims, is unreasonable and the cause of distress for her.

“Transgender employees in Illinois are protected against discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment,” Tsamis said. “We believe having access to an appropriate restroom facility is a term and condition of employment. Denying someone such access because of their gender identity violates the Illinois Human Rights Act. Since the restrooms are available to the general public, we believe Hobby Lobby’s actions violate the public accommodations protections of the IHRA.

The charges are of employment discrimination and public accommodations discrimination.

The case is pending before the IDHR. The next step in the process, according to the release, is that the charges will be served upon the employer and the employer will have an opportunity to respond.

From there, the parties are free to resolve the matter. If resolution fails, the IDHR will conduct a full investigation and move the charges through its appropriate channels which could result in a hearing before the commission or a civil court action.

“It’s hard enough being a trans person,” Sommerville said in the release. “I just want my employer to treat me fairly and lawfully.”

A representative for Hobby Lobby was not immediately available Saturday afternoon.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Tony Godsey

    really joe5 obvious troll is a troll

  • Mr. Justice

    If the birth certificate still shows male, then he/she should not be allowed to utilize the woman’s restroom.

  • David

    Your brain is the same size as your member-extremely SMALL.

    • disgusted

      Well, David, if ‘she’ has a “member”, no matter what the size, ‘she’ does NOT belong in the women’s restroom. Why should I, a female, be forced to share WOMEN’S restroom with a person with a “member”. Why is it that normal people are always expected to accommodate people who have a ‘change’ of mind’ about themselves? What about MY rights? Shouldn’t the management/employer safeguard my rights too? Who do I sue??

      • lisalee18wheeler

        Well, honey, maybe you should start having panty checks before anyone uses your sacred space. Every person, every time. Including you.

      • gabby

        @disgusted its hardly a change of mind and living in role as a female is a requirement to transition.
        thw wpth rues are currently two years for surgery but in reality rle can be a lot longer.

        ive attached a link, and hope you will take the time to educate yourself
        and maybe your thoughts might change

      • gabby

        being as there are cubicles in a womens restroom and the person is a genuine pre-op trans woman. then you would never see anything of a personal nature except them washing their hands.
        your views are bigoted
        when you are at home you share your washroom with all family members wether they are male or female.
        all you want to do is hate what you dont understand
        all washrooms should be unisex!! its 2011 not 1711 !!

      • Starbuck Severin Avon

        Disgusted, you obviously don’t understand many workings and differences that the human mind can have, including that of gender identity. A person going through it has to go through a year of living the part and if a woman, uses the ladies’ room! And as I said, there’s usually stalls so there’s nothing to look at! Do you look under the doors to see if there’s someone next to you with a “member”? Give me a break. You’re probably also against those with mental illness.

      • Mr. Justice


  • davidd

    It is quite obvious you didn’t read the article fully. She is female except for the sex organs. She looks like a woman she SHOULD BE ALLOWED to use the ladies restroom. Maybe you’d like to start a fund to build a transgender washroom at hobby lobby.

  • Mike B

    At some point the world should not be made to accommodate you, but rather you must be made to accommodate the world. The place of employment is not denying her access to a restroom. They are denying her access to the restroom of her choosing. Regardless of how she identifies herself, she is still physically a man.

    To be honest, she’s already developed a means to satisfy her desire the use of the ladies room at an alternate location. I really do sympathize with her plight and I am sorry she wasn’t born in the body she believes is right for her. She has a hard boat to row and I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  • Camille

    What do her female co-workers think? Do they mind if she uses the women’s room? (I wouldn’t.)

  • Kenyan_Warlord

    With all these right-wing nut jobs in the comments section out there, let’s leave the term “birth certificate” out of this one. lol

    • gabby

      @ kenyan, a birth certificate can be re issued to reflect gender after two years of rle and also after first obtaining a gender recognition certificate.
      this is regardless of wether someone is a pre or post operative trans-person.

      • Allison

        as far as I know in Illinois you can not have your birth certificate changed unless you have had gender reassignment surgery.

    • Special Forces

      So Kenyan, what are you trying to say Obama is not a male but actually a female very possible.

  • srdib

    all they have to do is designate the bathrooms unisex. you know, with the male/female symbols. case closed. why do people make things so hard, the hines va hospital has them. you wait till what ever one is available and go. its a simple solution and how hot is this chick?

  • ab

    It is really strange to read some of those commends about the problems you have with us transsexual people. The gender of a person is and stays in the brain!!
    A transsexual highschool/college teacher for math and science from Germany.
    It is just a matter of brain and education…

    • ab

      I think God intended to make me transsexual.
      So in the last years I was able to help a lot of so called ‘normal’ people to overcome the difficulties they had in all that hate -like I feel in those commends- in our world. For example I stopped some very ill (I work also in my free time in hospitals) from commiting suicide. Since ‘my coming out’ I had never ill feeling by people, who know me. I think God intended it that way – But it took me a long time to understand….Even so or perhaps because I was always very excellent in university in math and science….

    • disgusted

      Oops: If He had intended YOU to be a woman, He would have created as such.

  • Jerry

    Still can’t change the inner parts. Should drag queens be allowed to use the women’s bathroom? He was hired as a man and employer doesn’t have to acknowledge “operation” as gender change!

    • gabby

      @ frank john reid
      it would be very unlikely that someone would be a trans-woman purely to mug people in toilets frank…………………….lol
      @jerry you might want to educate yourself further on surgery for trans people
      and also equality law

  • Frank John Reid

    My late mother didn’t have anything against transgender surgery, but she did worry about any situation where a casually-disguised male criminal might find it very, very easy to wait for her in a women’s restroom and mug her, & get away. She was especially fearful of having a hip broken in a physical attack (she knew women who had this happen). For an old woman, this is permanent crippling. Remember: this is not a matter of an exception for a known person, but of precedent for every person who enters the store. Are the fears and fates of older and slighter women to count as absolutely nothing? For that matter, what of a small, slight transsexual’s? Just asking….

  • Brenda

    As far as im concerned shes a she, she might not of went thru the surgery yet but if shes taking the hormones and such shes already growing breasts, losing hair in places so on. I have lived in a building where there was a trans. living there and as far as im concerned she was a lady, not sure if she went thru the surgery or not to remove the part she never felt right about but as far as we were all concerned she was a lady…I hope you win good luck. I mean all you women that are just jealous that she probably looks better than you, all your worried about is your safety trust me if shes becoming a woman she has no interest in your goodies. has nothing to do with that but on the other hand if shes growing breast and such and looks and identifies as a woman well her going to the mens bathroom is very dangerous for her, oh yeah most of you dont care about her safety, and for the comment of ok all you sickos go ahead and dress like a woman and come in there hate to tell ya they dont have to dress that way to be in there if they so chose. and ummm glad you think only men are sexual deviants and sickos or rapist or pedophiles women can be all of them too. real born woman women.

    • Starbuck Severin Avon

      Trans people need to go through a year of “living the part” before actually going through with the surgery (this I learned from a trans friend). This would include using the women’s room! And what would be the big deal? Y’all in stalls so there’s nothing to see here, move along!

  • Maria

    This is a human being, what difference does it make to ANYBODY what toilet she uses. I cannot believe how petty some people are.

    • Sky King

      Hey Maria,I’m a male can I be in the womens bathroom the same time you are??

      • julieinoh

        Sure! Just change your name to a female name, put on makeup and a dress every day for the rest of your life, and you too can use the women’s room.

      • EN

        Julie, you really need to do some research on transgender females before you make more ignorant statements. They are not interested in other women sexually.

  • mb

    I have never had a problem sharing a bathroom with a drag queen or a transexual person. Just leave the bathroom clean, and wash your hands and I am good with sharing the facilities.

  • Andy

    Hobby Lobby is run by Christian goofballs. It’s obvious management is making it uncomfortable hoping the person will quit and just go away. That explains the discrimination. I’m a Christian but hopefully not the goofball kind. If this violates established Illinois law then the company should be prosecuted and it’s management thrown in jail for a month for crimes against rational thought.

    • OLD VET


  • Mr. Justice

    Great comments T !

  • ucity88

    Race is a social, not a biological, construct. You are assigned a race by others, you are not born into one other than the human race.

    And gender is based on chromosomes, not sex organs. XX is female, XY is male.

    If I worked with Meggan, I wouldn’t care where she used the bathroom as long as she didn’t leave the seat up…

    • lisalee18wheeler

      You’re making two assumptions here. One, that biology is fixed. It’s not. There are XX men (very rare), and XY women, who have normal childbirth. Not to mention all the intersexed conditions in between. And two, that this person is still “male” with male traits and characteristics, such as “leaving the toilet seat up”.

  • ucity88

    I will never understand those who are so threatened by other people who are making a gender change. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! They don’t want you. Shut up! Leave them alone. They aren’t hurting you by existing.

  • Knobby Hobby

    Women are bigger pigs than men in the washroom. Let this human question mark tough it out.

  • danny

    If they retaliate against her file additional charges. Employers are notorious to strike back after an employee complains to IDHR or EEOC. Good luck!

  • Victor Paredes

    Time change we should build more coed restroom.

  • melissa

    Ok this person might be a male, but truley feels like a woman. She dresses like a woman, talks like a woman, and also like a woman likes men, so I am sure she is not going into the restroom to leer at women or be a perv. I guess if I was a man it would make me more uncomfortable to walk into the bathroom and see a woman standing there.

  • PhoenixRedux

    What no one is saying is that, at the crux of this, is Hobby Lobby is owned by a fundamentalist Christian, who closes the store on Sunday and obviously imposes his religious interpretation of gender on his employees.
    If the state is willing to accept Meggan as female, then Meggan is female. end of story,
    On a practical note, women;s restrooms all have closed stalls, thus insuring privacy, while men’s rooms often have open urinals, which could certainly create a sense of distress in someone trying to be modest with a female mindset.
    Accommodating her costs the company nothing, actually protects her AND other employees from embarrassment, and is just plain kind.
    Refusing her to make a religious point only shows the cruelty and stupidity of religion.

  • Zebra

    Close the store and lay off everyone.

  • jamie

    In Europe they have unisex bathrooms. When we are traveling sometimes the gas station only has a one-holer. If there is a line at the womens, sometimes I stand outside the door and let my wife use the mens. Its no big deal. You people are just showing what bigots you are. Its really a ridiculous argument. Who cares if someone goes in the other bathroom if they aren’t exposing themselves or harassing someone else. I remember I went to the stone’s concert in Chicago and there was a huge line in the women’s bathroom so women were coming in the mens and using the stalls and nobody was like you can’t come in here. The only reason you are against this woman using the bathroom is because she is a trangendered you are a bunch of biggots.

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