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Trails End Farmer's Market Removes Transgendered Employee
AM980 News


A human rights complaint is in the process of being filed against the Trails End Farmer's Market on Dundas Street because of an ultimatum issued to a vendor to remove a transgendered employee from the premises.

The vendor in question is "True 2 You", a local company that sells candles, incense, oils, and air fresheners. Market officials were concerned transgendered individuals compromised their "family friendly atmosphere."

Karen Clarke, the owner and proprietor of True 2 You of London, says nearly two weeks ago - on September 10th - she was told she could not set up a booth the following week if she planned on having a transgendered employee running it.

After working the morning shift, she left her attendant Dani - who's transgendered - in charge so she could prepare for their work day in the Pinery the next day.

"Everything was fine when I left and it wasn't until five to 8 on Saturday night that I got a call from the management at Trails End. Basically they said if I was going to have those people there anymore I'm invited to take my business elsewhere."

The call was made by one of the market's managers, she said.

"He said it made everyone uncomfortable and it just wasn't right. This is a family place, a family market and this just isn't right. I just kept insisting what happened that was wrong and he said you walk up to the person and they're dressed like a woman and they've got big hands, a deep voice and tattoos and it's just not right. It's just not a family place he kept repeating that over and over again. And I kept trying to get from him what was wrong, what was so not right, what was it that people were complaining about and there was no details forthcoming that way. He called them 'those people' several times."

Michelle Boyce is now providing counsel to the vendor and says this is a case of blatant discrimination and a complaint will be filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

"We're in the process of filing human rights against Trails End Market, its blatant discrimination of what they've done. I've never seen a case so obvious."

Boyce says if the commission rules in their favor, the fall out could be significant.

"There's pain and suffering, dollars that are in play and that can total up to $30,000 or $40,000, it depends on each case. Then there's the public interest piece where the public interest is at play and they're going to have to get training and develop programs that include transpeople, LGBT communities and make it a safe place for all of the public."

Ed Kikkert has owned the Trails End Farmer's Market for nearly 30 years and says he was alerted to the presence of the transgendered individuals through employees and customers. He confirms Clarke was given the opportunity to take her business elsewhere.

"She was asked if she could not look after her booth, if she was not able, then she was asked to leave it because of the people she had running it," Kikkert said. "The issue was there was three men in that booth dressed up as women."

He doesn't believe this is a case of discrimination.

"Why would I be discriminating? I'm not discriminating at all. I'm just asking which washroom would they use? How can you go into a men's washroom dressed as a lady, how can you go into ladies washroom when you're a man. That's the difficulty I have. It's not discriminating at all. The issue is at hand."

Kikkert also didn’t have much of a reaction when he was informed the human rights complaint was being filed.

"Everybody has to do what they have to do."

The employee in question, according to the business owner, is one of her best employees and has worked without issue at the Children's Festival, Rib Fest, and Food Fest this past summer. In addition to working for Clarke, Dani also lives with her as part of a rent-for-work agreement.

Clarke has had a booth at the Trails End Farmer's market for three years and says she's never had any issues.

Kikkert acknowledges there was no "inappropriate behavior" on the part of the transgendered employee, saying the individual's mere presence made customers uncomfortable.

"Basically, we run a family farmers market. I have two washrooms, a washroom for men and a washroom for women. My question would be, if they had to go to the washroom which washroom would they go to. If they go to the women's washroom, they're men so the women would get excited. If they go the men's washroom the men would get excited because they're dressed as women so which washroom would they use in my market? That's what I have difficulty with. So would I have to have a third washroom?"

The incident has left Clarke and Dani hurt.

"I've never experienced this before because frankly I'm from Oakridge. Born and raised in London and haven't had a lot of experiences with biases one way or another. To have it affect my business so directly for not being biased, I'm being punished for not being a bigot." said Clarke.

Dani says she's devastated by what's happened.

"This has destroyed me, it's pushed me back in my shell. The last couple of weeks, I've been depressed." she said, adding she feels especially bad at the situation her employer now finds herself in.

"I feel responsible for this. It hits home and for everything she's done for me, and to have this happen to her. It just rips me apart. Because of this, having me work for her has pretty much destroyed the business she had there. This is her busy time, this is her survival."

When asked if Clarke would be welcomed back to Trail's End, Kikkert said "absolutely" on the condition she "look after it."

"That's exactly what she was told on the phone that evening," Kikkert said. "It wasn't one; there were three in one small 10x10 booth. So that's an issue too. If there's one it wouldn't have stuck out that bad but there's three."

Clarke questions that, saying a campaign has already started to smear her name.

"This is hearsay but from all the other vendors that I talked to this Sunday (the 18th), now I'm being defamed. I'm apparently several months in arrears in my rent and ever since my husband left me, which is not what happened, I've fallen into a bad crowd. That I'm going downhill and this is the story that is being put out to the other vendors at Trail's End."

She says she'll never return to the Market as a vendor.

"I'm not comfortable there. If they [market officials] can turn on somebody who's been so dedicated, and I've been there through the last several years and have always run a very low-key and steady business, if they can turn on you that quickly - the trust is gone."

In the meantime, a petition to boycott the market has already been created with hundreds of signatures in less than 24 hours.

"The support has been outstanding," said Dani. " It's unbelievable. We never expected it, and we're just happy that there is the support and they're backing us - because we did nothing wrong, and we're happy the community sees that."


Full interview with 'Dani', the transgendered employee:

Full interview with Karen Clarke (store owner) and Michelle Boyce (gay rights activist):

Full interview with Ed Kikkert, owner of Trails End Farmer's Market:

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  • 63
  1. DougR posted on 09/22/2011 08:35 AM
    Luckily we have other farmers markets in London. My family will never return to this market after reading such ignorant comments. This is indeed discrimination and hopefully something is done about it.
  2. MichelleM_4562 posted on 09/22/2011 12:19 PM
    I don't live in London anymore, and it's stories like this one that make me glad I left. Things like this shouldn't happen in this day and age, and I hope more rational and less bigoted people take a stand against Trails End Farmers Market and hits them were it hurts - right in the pocketbook. Unfortunately, other vendors will suffer, but maybe it will give them added incentive to find a different market that is accepting of everyone, regardless of their differences.
    1. jims_0156 posted on 09/22/2011 09:58 PM
      @MichelleM_4562 Your glad you left London because of the views of one individual, I'm glad you left too, your obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed.
    2. jims_0156 posted on 09/22/2011 09:58 PM
      @MichelleM_4562 Your glad you left London because of the views of one individual, I'm glad you left too, your obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed.
  3. JohnnyS posted on 09/22/2011 12:21 PM
    This makes me sick.. Karen congrats on standing up and making this public. Also to the owners of the trails end market REALLY now the Bathroom is the issue I THINK NOT.. Homophobia/ Transphobia makes me sick. IT IS 2011 Folks..
  4. JulieS_5984 posted on 09/22/2011 12:47 PM
    I strongly disagree. The owner of the Trails End Market has every right to stand up for his belief system. He privately owns the market and has the right to exclude anything that he doesn't agree with. The Western Fair association was able to discontinue their contract with the "all about sex show" people based on their values so why can't this man? There are signs above his market doors that have been there for years making it clear that he is Christian and no one has the right to force him to accept beliefs that are opposed to his own. He didn't mistreat Dani or the other employees, however, he should have the right as owner to ask them to leave if he is not happy with the message he believes they are portraying. I will continue to support the Trails End and believe that others should stand up and counter the attacks they are going to receive.
    1. TauniY posted on 09/22/2011 05:19 PM
      @JulieS_5984 Why is it that "Right Wingers" always use the excuse that as Christians they should not have to have these type of things shoved down their throats?

      Jesus hung out with the worst of the worst. He certainly did not judge nor act like this towards man or woman.

      Shame on you and shame on the owner of that market for using Christianity to hide your hate.
    2. TauniY posted on 09/22/2011 05:20 PM
      @JulieS_5984 Why is it that "Right Wingers" always use the excuse that as Christians they should not have to have these type of things shoved down their throats?

      Jesus hung out with the worst of the worst. He certainly did not judge nor act like this towards man or woman.

      Shame on you and shame on the owner of that market for using Christianity to hide your hate.
  5. SherriM_2 posted on 09/22/2011 01:10 PM
    Sorry JulieS_5984, you're wrong. He does NOT have the right to discriminate in this way, period. Are you saying that he should be able to refuse to do business with people of specific races or religions? He can't. You may not like it, but that's not the way it works. You get to be a bigot in your own home, I guess, but that's where it needs to stay.
  6. MichelleM_4562 posted on 09/22/2011 02:08 PM
    So JulieS_5984, based on the fact that he's a Christian, would it be okay if he suddenly decided that Muslims couldn't work there, or Jewish people, or agnostics?

    Besides which, the fact that he is a Christian should make him MORE accepting - not less. Jesus didn't tell his disciples to love everyone exactly like themselves, he told his disciples to love everyone - PERIOD.

    My God doesn't discriminate. Why does his?
    1. JimP_5492 posted on 09/22/2011 07:59 PM
      @MichelleM_4562 Hello, I'm sorry but my God does discriminate and because he is God I have no problem with it. If you read and study his word you will find where he told his chosen people, the Jews, to kill nations, men women and children. At the end of the age, he will send millions to an eternal hell, and Jesus who is God, 1/3 Trinity, is that same God. He accepted sinners but he told them to go and sin no more.
  7. JackieR_6806 posted on 09/22/2011 04:13 PM
    @JulesS 5984, Your comment about the rights of the market owner being allowed to choose who he feels will provide a good Christian setting for his market and reflect good family morals is showing how little you know about being a good Christian and loving person.
    God tells us to love one another and bring all the little children unto him. Each of us regardless of our birth place, sexual orientation, race, colour are a child of God. I was once told by a Bishop that only God can pass judgement on any person. Last I checked God was not the Trails End owner, nor are you. I can not judge you as a child of God but he sure can! My God tells me to love one another, and I try hard to do that, but comments and actions like this and the Trails End Market sometimes make it very hard for me to do.

    I am a female and I wear pants, therefore I must be a cross dresser in your logic? I hope you never wear pants than either Julie because then you are a cross dresser too! Personally I would rather have my kids exposed to cross dressers than not see it. It opens discussions with our kids about sex, sexual orientation and promotes TOLERANCE AND GROWTH! Ignorance begets intolerance and fear. A cross dresser or transgender person is 1st and foremost A HUMAN BEING. Whether any person is a religious person or not, they are part of the human race.

    And your comment about the Western Fair Association getting rid of the Everything to Do With Sex Show being part of good family values? The Western Fair Association shows no similar 'good family values' when they ACTIVELY PROMOTE horse track gambling, and the western fair slots, and alcohol consumption. Gambling addictions and alcoholism is something that tears families apart through loss of money for food, housing and care if the individual has a gambling or drinking problem. The Everything to do With Sex Show, is about educating couples on having a safe and loving relationship in their BEDROOM. It had the Board of Health promoting safe sex, The AIDS committee providing information, it also had displays of identifying abuse in its many forms be it sexual, verbal, emotional or physical. The show brings out to the light that which some deems to be immoral and degrading, when in truth it is another form of sexual expression be it cross dressing, transgender, or alternate lifestyle. It brings it out to the light so that you will learn the difference between a rapist or pedophile or abuse and what is a loving and consensual relationship.
    1. krisp posted on 09/22/2011 07:06 PM
      @JackieR_6806 Beautifully said.
    2. JimP_5492 posted on 09/22/2011 08:07 PM
      @JackieR_6806 Just a comment, if you read my other comments you will understand why I don't share your thoughts. I just wondered where you received your Bible knowledge? I have studied and read the book all my life, your twist is curious.
  8. danielw posted on 09/22/2011 06:04 PM
    JulieS_5984: Given your logic, this man can discriminate against me simply because I am Jewish. He can also refuse to allow a Scotsman into the market if he is wearing a Kilt, (after all, that would be cross dressing, too) And given HIS logic, where would a Scotsman go to the washroom? Ladies, because he is wearing a dress, (kilt), or men's washroom, because he's a male? C'mon Julie... do you really believe what this guy has done is within his "right"? Bigotry is acceptable???
  9. SlynnT posted on 09/22/2011 11:32 PM
    I think this is such an important news story and a really well written article. I just wanted to draw the stations attention to GLAAD's media reference guide. It is appropriate to use the term transgender, but not transgendered, as they have different connotations! Thanks!
  10. StevenD_3740 posted on 09/23/2011 09:31 AM
    There might be a few racists who uses this market who are uncomfortable with black people - so he needs to to ban companies that have black employees. There might be a few black people who've suffered from racism and are uncomfortable with white people so he needs to ban companies that have white employees. There might be a few Christians uncomfortable with Moslems around, so he needs to ban companies that have Moslem employees. And there might be some Moslems uncomfortable with Christians, so he needs to ban companies that have Christian employees. Some women who've been sexually assaulted might be uncomfortable around men, so he needs to ban companies that have male employees. Where would this end? Oh, yes, it ends with transgendered employees because it has nothing to do with his customers, it's that this guy doesn't like transgendered people himself. If nothing else, he should be honest about that rather than claiming that he's concerned about his customers being "uncomfortable," since he's obviously not going to apply that standard consistently.

    As far as the excuse he's offered, where oh where does he get the impression that we have a right to be "comfortable" with the people around us everywhere we go? Insane and offensive.
  11. HelenaC posted on 09/23/2011 01:14 PM
    So because the owner of the market cannot figure out what washroom someone should use, that person is not welcome, in the eyes of the market owner, to work in the rented space that the vendor is paying for? At least, that is the reason being provided.

    Hmm, last time I checked, the washrooms are used for the elimination of bodily waste and handwashing after, regardless of the men/woen sign on the door. Sometimes the space is usedfor the changing of diapers, too; it is a family market, after all. Nope, I don't get the owner's stand.

    BTW - I'm Christian, and taught to love and accept all. Congratualtions on the progress to find yourself, Dani. For some of us, the journey is emotional and for others it is physical. Perhaps you can look on Mr Kikkert as the 'tool' God has used to show you the love and support that truly exists for you in your community.
  12. TomB_3290 posted on 09/23/2011 05:35 PM
    Transgendered is not a licence to defraud ... or to burn a suspected toxic substance, i.e. incense of dubious origin, indoors to the detriment of the health of others. Some people have no sense and stomp on these human rights while posturing as the injured party. You were reckless to initiate and negligent to persist. As for your verkackte attempt to get some easy money...
    you have chutzpah.
    1. RyanM posted on 10/14/2011 04:41 PM
      @TomB_3290 Quote: Kikkert acknowledges there was no "inappropriate behavior" on the part of the transgendered employee, saying the individual's mere presence made customers uncomfortable.

      Who's human rights are really being stomped on? If they didn't do anything wrong besides being transgendered their rights were "stomped on" first, thus your point is moot. Go be a troll on some other article.
  13. AmyG posted on 09/24/2011 09:47 AM
    Why is Dani's name in quotations on the video link?
  14. JuliaH_6948 posted on 09/24/2011 05:04 PM
    I am really sick of people hiding behind their religion because of their own ignorance and using the Bible only when it benefits them. As a christain you are taught to emulate Jesus and always ask yourself What Would Jesus do? Would Jesus have thrown out that person and kept a closed ignorant mind or would he have had compassion for him and loved him? I think you know the answer to that because if you were to read the Bible Jesus had compassion and love for everybody no matter what and he hung out with people that were shunned and considered the lowest of low in other peoples eyes. It's time to celebrate everyones differences instead of being ignorant and belittling them. Be a REAL christain.
  15. RyanM posted on 10/13/2011 12:49 PM
    If God hates gays, lesbians, and transgenders so much. Why does he keep making them!?
    1. Henryv posted on 10/14/2011 03:26 PM
      @RyanM They are self made.
    2. Henryv posted on 10/14/2011 03:26 PM
      @RyanM They are self made.
  16. Henryv posted on 10/14/2011 03:23 PM
    Yawnnnnnnn. As usual the point is missed, and sides are taken.
    If I encountered a woman in a men's washroom, I'd ask them to get out and find the washroom that fits their description. I'm not sure what my wife would do, but it would probably include charges which would have to be dealt with in court. Thinking about it, I suppose I would do the same, why should my wife think a guy in in a woman's washroom is a pervert, and it not be the same for me.
    I can't even begin to tell you how traumatized I'd be at seeing a woman in a men's room, even more so if my child were to have encountered this type of situation.
    It's obvious to me it's about the matching of plumbing that is at question, not the individual behind the plumbing.
    1. RyanM posted on 10/14/2011 04:27 PM
      @Henryv Traumatized? Really? You're so insecure about yourself that you'd go as far as to say you'd be traumatized by the presence of a woman in your bathroom? That's the most rediculous thing I've heard all day. What happens when all the stalls in the womans bathroom are in use, or the bathroom is being cleaned, and she couldn't hold it anymore? That's wrong? It's room with a sign on it, nothing more. Fitting your logic. A woman in the man's bathroom is traumatizing, but a man dressed up as a woman is fine? That won't make your child ask any questions? I think YOU missed the point, since the article is about the mistreatment of people who deserve just as much right to work as everybody else. Yet all you're talking about is the situation in a bathroom which was a failed attempt at an argument by the trails end owner. Try again sleepyhead.
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