Ask Pgh 7-Eleven Franchise Owner to Meet and Discuss Trans Bashing Incident

Here’s the story in a nutshell. I witnessed an employee of a local 7-Eleven (Western Avenue on the Northside) use the word “tranny” while at the register and I confronted him. He ran into the office, I reported him to corporate and asked for a meeting with the store owner. They refuse. I simply want to bring local trans advocate (and Northside resident) Eli Kuti and local LGBTQ minister (and Northside resident) Rev Dave McFarland together with the owners of this franchise to discuss the incident, the surrounding events and consider how we can ensure that this store is welcoming and safe to everyone.

That’s it. A meeting. And they refuse. So I am asking you to sign this petition to encourage them to reconsider.

Here’s the full story:

On Thursday 5/2/2013, I witnessed a clerk at this store use the word “tranny” while telling an anecdote to a coworker and at least one customer. This was after a lengthy conversation about “fat women” and gastric bypass surgery that took place while I was in line.

As I approached the exit, I heard this employee (according to corporate – his name is Brandon) say “and this guy, you know ‘the tranny’ who comes in here …”  I immediately turned and said “Did you just say tranny?”

He responded with a mumbled sorry and a smirk. The entire store went silent. I told him that sorry isn’t sufficient when you smirk and that the term is offensive and demeaning and not appropriate in a business. He turned and ran into the back. I asked the other clerks for his name – they told me it was “Bee” (they spelled it), then asked if a manager was around (there was not) and I left.

I tried to find the franchise information. I left a voice mail. I contacted corporate 7-Eleven and filed a complaint. The franchise called me within an hour and said that they were not sure it was one of their stores – the woman then asked me to explain what the word meant and how to spell it. She said it looked like the store had been sold and I should work with corporate.

Corporate emailed me the next day and said they would need a few days to investigate. On Tuesday 5/7, I followed up with corporate and they expressed surprise that the franchise ower had not called me. They followed up with her (Liz Ulstott I later learned) and claimed she had addressed it. Brandon ackowledged he used the word but said it was a private conversation.

I politely requested the franchise owner meet with me and two members of the community to discuss the situation and my other concers regarding the preceding conversation and the response by Brandon’s coworkers. That request was denied and I was told that 7-Eleven would have no further comment on the issue.

It is important that business owners take steps to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome in their establishment. We believe a face to face meeting with a small group of community leaders can open a dialogue to create a welcoming environment. The meeting would include three people – a local pastor who is part of the LGBTQ community and a local trans man, both of whom live in the neighborhood as well as myself, a lesbian who lives in the neighborhood.

Ou goal is to simply ensure the owner understands that a “private conversation” using an offensive and hateful slur sends a message to everyone in hearing range. Personal opinions need to be expressed in private, not while in uniform waiting on customers at a register.

We hope that during this meeting we can collectively discuss ways to ensure that the community, both geographic and LGBTQ, feel safe and welcome in this store.

While I recognize that this incident occured in a franchise, we are including 7-Eleven corporate in this petition in hopes that they will support our request and encourage their franchisee to sit down and meet with us.

We just want a simple meeting. That’s a very reasonable request. What do you think?

Please sign the petition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessie.ramey.50 Jessie Ramey

    Very reasonable — and helpful, because you are offering to educate and move people towards understanding. I would also love to see this effort aimed at the KISS 91.6 “morning freak show” hosts who constantly talk about “trannies and grannies” for no apparent reason (other than it rhymes and seems incongruous — you know, because there are no elderly LGBTQI people. Ugh.).