CHICAGO (CBS) — A transgender woman has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city, challenging the Chicago ordinance prohibiting women from going topless in establishments that hold liquor licenses.

Bea Sullivan-Knoff, 23 – a performance artist, playwright, and poet – said a lot of what she does centers on her body as a trans woman.

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“Claiming my own partially nude or nude body in a performance in public is a way for me to advocate for myself, and for my community,” she said.

In one of her performance pieces, the Northwestern University alum wears a sheet and covers her head with a bag that reads “Touch Me” on all four sides.

“I was led into a circle of people, and I stood in the middle, dropped the sheet. I wasn’t wearing anything other than that, and for five minutes people came up and touched me. So it was an act of bravery and vulnerability on my part. It was not easy to do,” she said. “The responses to that performance, especially, were over the moon. People really, really were deeply impacted.”

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Her attorney, Mary Grieb, said Sullivan-Knoff has been unable to perform the artistic pieces she wants, because of the city’s municipal code, which prohibits any business with a liquor license from allowing women to “engage in any live act, demonstration, dance or exhibition on the licensed premises which exposes to public view … Any portion of the female breast at or below the areola thereof.”

“In a city as diverse as Chicago, and with the artistic opportunities that the city of Chicago has, there’s no place for this law. It’s arbitrary, it’s unfair, it’s sexist. The law reflects 19th century ideas about gender, sex, and gender identity,” she said. “There’s no good cause behind a law that has prohibited conduct for female breasts, but not for male breasts.”

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The federal civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks unspecified financial damages, and to have the city’s ban declared unconstitutional.