A transgender woman claims she was harassed, handcuffed, and detained after being accused of using the wrong bathroom at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio.
“It made me feel subhuman it was just totally wrong,” said Ella. That’s how Ella says she felt after the incident at Fantasy Springs.
Ella says she was playing blackjack at the casino when she got up to go to the restroom. She says that as she was washing her hands, four men came into the women’s restroom and demanded to see her ID.
“I said I don’t have to show you an ID I’m not breaking any laws. So, next thing I know, these four guys grabbed me, handcuffed me and walked me across the casino like I was some kind of animal. And then they put me in a cell. I was there for a couple of hours,” Ella said.
Ella also said the handcuffs on her were too tight, and when she asked for them to be removed, the men instead tightened them. The tightness left marks on her hand.
“They went through my purse without my permission, saw my driver’s license that says that I’m female. I told them ‘I haven’t broken any law, you’ve already looked at my drivers license why don’t you let me go?’ They said ‘we’re not letting you go until the Sheriff’s department gets there,'” Ella said.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said they were called in regards to a battery. Once on scene the call was downgraded to disturbing the peace but no citation was made.
Thomi Clinton, the CEO of the Transgender Community Coalition, said she has reached out to casinos to work with them so things like this don’t happen. She says it comes down to educating the employees.
“It’s a policy issue and an administrative issue, so leadership is failing. If leadership is not educating their employees on public accommodations and diversity and cultural diversity,” Clinton said.
Clinton hopes something good might come of this situation and hopes to work with Fantasy Springs if they are interested.
“We’re always open to working with them so people can live authentically with dignity and respect,” Clinton said.
Ella said she will not be going back to the casino and plans to seek legal action.
Fantasy Springs released a statement on the incident via the casino’s general manager Paul Ryan.
We are conducting an internal investigation and we have no further comment at this time – Paul Ryan, Fantasy Springs general manager