Trans army veteran outed to class and ordered to use women’s bathroom by school wins major settlement
Danny Hart, a 49-year-old military veteran, filed a lawsuit against Apex Technical School in Long Island City, Queens in December 2016, according to Gay City News. He claimed an employee of the trade school repeatedly and publicly deadnamed him and told him to accept the key to the school’s locked women’s restrooms.
Hart also alleged in the suit that the school did not allow him to enrol under his name and forced him to use his former, legal name.
He told Gay City News that he attended Apex Technical School in 2016 when he was looking for a career change after the military. He explained that he wanted to become an electrician and saw it as a way to pursue a new career while also feeling affirmed in his gender.
But, he said, within moments of starting at the school he was subjected to discrimination. Hart said staff used his deadname on paperwork, saying that his legal name was required.
He pointed out that one professor was “cool” with using his chosen name, but another kept using his deadname. Hart described how the staff member repeatedly yelled his deadname while going through the roster and allegedly told the class “you should have like one female”.
“I felt like my blood left my body,” Hart told Gay City News. “Like all the lights were pointed at me… I couldn’t move.”
He said the employee then pulled him aside the next day and demanded that Hart take the keys for a locked women’s bathroom. Hart alleged that the staffer directed him to use the women’s bathroom, despite Hart saying he was willing to use a bathroom at a pizza shop more than a block away.
He said his classmates soon began to taunt him and make transphobic bathroom jokes after the incident. Hart said this happened on his second day of attending Apex Technical School, and he never returned.
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“I was never able to get that certificate,” Hart said. “I was really mad. I wanted that certificate. I truly did.”
He eventually returned to the army and went on to manage a bar. Hart told Gay City News that he temporarily stopped his transition, including legally changing his name, because of the incident and mounting transphobia.
“I just didn’t want to go through that again,” Hart said. “I just went back to my regular name and just let people call me by that, although I didn’t relate to it.”
He said a friend convinced Hart to pursue a lawsuit against Apex Technical School. More than four years after the incidents, the school settled the lawsuit with Hart.
According to Gay City News, Apex Technical School is paying Hart $15,000 for emotional distress and $10,000 in civil penalties for the transphobic incidents. It also reported that the school agreed to update its internal policies on bathroom signage and said staff members must now complete anti-discrimination that is inclusive of transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students.
Apex Technical School has been contacted for comment.