Transgender Woman Detained, Questioned at Six Flags
[DALLAS, TX] - Six Flags Over Texas security officers briefly detained a Dallas transgender resident last month after another park visitor complained about the presence of a "man dressed as a woman," according to the detained woman.
The security guards treated her respectfully and allowed her to return to the park after she presented identification that showed her sex as female, said the transgender woman, who asked not to be identified. She claimed that security officers told her the entertainment complex regularly enforces a policy prohibiting cross-dressing.
"I really don't have any recriminations about Six Flags in terms of how they treated me, but the policy just surprises me," she said. "It's a changing world. It sounds to me like Six Flags is a little behind the times."
The woman holds a season pass to Six Flags and visited the park four times earlier this year without incident, she said.
Six Flags spokeswoman Sandra Daniels said that the park's dress code does not mention cross-dressing.
"We don't have a policy that says no cross-dressing," Daniels said. "What our policy does say is that a judgment call as to the
appropriateness of attire or accessories are at management's discretion. We do reserve the right to deny admittance to any
individual or group that doesn't meet those standards.
"We are a family park, and we try to maintain that family atmosphere. I guess there was something that made this [complainant] feel a little uncomfortable or a little unsure."
Daniels noted that the security officer "apologized profusely" before the transgender woman left area where she was detained.
"Obviously, he saw nothing about her dress or appearance that warranted removal from the park," Daniels said.
Dallas Transgender Alliance president Tylana Coop said that she talked to the security officer about the incident and that he told her that he "didn't enjoy the enforcement of the cross-dressing policy but that it was his job when another patron makes a complaint," according to a story she wrote about the incident on her Web site.
The transgender woman said that she views the actions of the security officers as having broader implications. What if they detained a woman who just happens to have masculine features, she said.
"To be pulled in there if you were actually a genetic female and have someone tell you, `We don't allow men to wear women's clothing in a park' would be an insult, she said.
Security officers took the transgender woman to an office for the questioning to protect her privacy, Daniels noted.
The transgender woman said that she is concerned about others who do not have identification showing their sex as compatible with their dress. Transgenders sometimes have difficulty obtaining sex changes on birth certificates and other legal documents, she said.
Daniels said that a guest would not be automatically removed if they could not produce identification proving their sex matched their dress. It would be handled on a "case by case basis," she said.
The security officer told her that he could not remember having ever before questioned a park visitor about their gender, Daniels said.
The transgender woman said that she has dressed in female attire for 14 months without incident. She wore jeans, a knit top and a wig on the day of the incident.
She had no doubts about the reason for the security guards detaining her, the transgender woman said.
"I was calm about it for the most part," she said. "I figured it had to be this."
The transgender woman, who is 6-foot-2, spent $25,000 on plastic surgery and electrolysis to make herself appear more feminine. She began the process of transitioning three years ago at age 51, but she has not had sexual reassignment surgery.
She works as an e-mail administrator for a large public entity, where she said she transitioned on the job without problems.
She asked to remain anonymous partially due to her fears of harassment from people who would not accept her.
"There are still those who would just as soon see us in a grave as be alive," she said. "I try to live a normal life as much as I can, and Six Flags is part of that."
The transgender woman said her self-confidence has slipped as a result of the incident.
"I had pretty much convinced myself that I was getting by in public and that the stares were just because I am so tall," she said. "It's sort of a setback in that regard."