In Dallas' Red Suburbs, You Don't Have to Apologize for Transphobic Business Practices

Drinks with a side of national outrage were not what I signed up for when I headed home to Allen to meet some high school friends Monday evening.They were in town for the week, I was nearby for a doctor visit, so we met at a local standby, Dodie’s Place Cajun Restaurant, Grill and Bar. Walking through the restaurant, the life-size images on the bathroom doors immediately caught my attention. Even as a straight, cisgender man, the picture of Caitlyn Jenner before and after her transition, designating the men’s and women’s bathrooms, respectively, gave me pause. I stepped back from the reeking doors to mull the question I would soon be asking others: What’s going on here?My friends laughed and dismissed it as “classic,” as in, classic Allen. And I understood them. Our experience growing up in the city wasn’t exactly that of an apologetic environment for those easily offended.Allen, where the restaurant is located, is a booming suburb about 35 minutes from the heart of downtown Dallas. As of 2010, when I lived there, the median income for a family was six figures, and the population skewed about 65 percent white. In high school I resembled these demographics, and I can tell you from experience - under these circumstances, it’s easy to live in a bubble.My education about how to exist in a diverse world didn’t happen in Allen. It couldn’t, really. Even some of my family members waited until they had left the suburbs or found outside communities to talk publicly about their own complicated sexualities.My adolescence rang with gay and lesbian jokes told by others, jokes that I knew perpetuated a negative environment for folks like the LGBTQ community. In Dodie’s Place, I found myself confronted with that feeling once again. But based on comments on social media this week, I have to wonder if jokes like these could actually be good for a business in Collin County.On their face, the posters were just famous images of a pop-culture icon. That is, until bloggers drew attention to the posters, and the Dallas Morning News reporters dug up a Facebook account linked to the cell phone number of Dodie’s owner Kyle McPherson, boasting that the bathroom doors had “FINALLY” gotten the media’s attention.When controversy bubbled up to the national level, I called the restaurant and had a polite conversation with McPherson, who released a statement later that day. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s statement was less of an apology than a justification.“First and foremost, our intention was not to make fun of or offend anyone when we installed the pictures of Bruce and Caitlyn on our bathroom doors. It was merely a lighthearted gesture to push back against the political correctness that seems to have a stranglehold on this country right now. We believe that political correctness has done more to silence rather than encourage important discussions that our society probably needs to have.” the statement from Dodie’s reads.  Continue reading...

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