Meet Meggan Somerville, who actually works for Hobby Lobby.
Customers were coming in after the ruling and high-fiving her, and she was forcing a smile while not letting on that she wasn’t all that pleased.
Sommerville has worked there for 16 years. She loves her job and the store, which she said pays a good wage and carries supplies that she’s used for many of her own crafting projects.
Still, the congratulations from customers were hard to swallow. “I’d smile and nod and say, ‘Yes, it’s a victory for the company,’ and then I’d push my real feelings down and not think about it anymore.”
Sommerville is a transgender woman, and back in 2011, she filed a complaint against Hobby Lobby with the Illinois Department of Human Rights after the company refused to allow her to use the women’s bathroom either as a customer or an employee.
Well that’s nice. Do they think women go into the stalls in pairs? In my experience with women’s restrooms at work, they have either stalls or locks on the doors; they’re not set up in such a way so that you have to watch your colleagues pee. To put it crudely, I’ve never been in a position to check a co-worker’s personal plumbing in the restrooms. It just doesn’t happen. So what the hell is Hobby Lobby’s problem?
Sommerville transitioned to living as a woman in 2010. For the most part, colleagues and management were supportive, trying their best to use her new name and the right pronoun. That summer, she formally changed her name in court and received a new Social Security card and driver’s license. A month later, Hobby Lobby provided her with a new name tag that finally matched how she saw herself.
But management refused to budge on one issue: They insisted that Sommerville continue to use the men’s restroom. According to Sommerville, she was told she would only be allowed to use the women’s restroom if she provided proof that she had undergone genital reconstructive surgery. Neither the state of Illinois nor the federal government require this surgery for a person to legally change his or her gender.
“I was devastated,” Sommerville said. “I just want to be treated like all the other women. To do anything else diminishes who I am in the eyes of customers and employees.”
Going to the bathroom became an embarrassing ordeal, where she was constantly worried about outing herself to customers or colleagues who didn’t know her history. “There have been a few times when a customer has come in and I have essentially been trapped in the stall while I wait for the person to leave,” she said. “The stories of trans women that have come under attack are always on my mind when I am forced to use the men’s room. At the very least, I don’t want to make a scene.”
What the hell is their point?
Hobby Lobby has not argued that religious principles influenced its refusal to allow Sommerville to use the women’s bathroom. But her lawyer, Jacob Meister, pointed to a recent Salon.com article on how Hobby Lobby, its executives and affiliated companies are pouring millions of dollars into organizations and causes that seek to advance conservative Christian values and oppose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
“I think the facts speak for themselves. Hobby Lobby has very actively sought to impose what it believes the law should be wherever possible, and it has thrown a lot of money behind these efforts,” Meister said.
“I have absolutely no possible explanation for why they would so flagrantly ignore what’s very clear in Illinois law,” Meister continued. “Meggan is a female, she’s been full-time for many years, and they will not allow her to use the women’s restroom, which is something that is afforded to every female employee that they have except for Meggan, every female customer they have except for transgender folk.”
Ok so their point is…if god had wanted you to be a woman god would have given you the right plumbing so we get to make you use the men’s john because god’s feelings are hurt. Do I have that right?