Non-binary person injured by ‘toilet-policing’ pub worker during Brighton Pride

The customer's injuries side-by-side with a photograph of Pride goers in Brighton

A non-binary Pride-goer has said they were injured in Brighton after a pub worker “policing toilets” during the celebrations “flew into a rage”.

Sam (not their real name) described themselves to PinkNews as a masc-presenting non-binary trans person.

Sam says that at around 10.15pm on 6 August, the day of Brighton Pride, they were at the Waggon and Horses pub in central Brighton with friends, after arriving late to the celebrations and not finding any space in the city’s crowded queer venues.

They were set to leave the pub, and joined the queue to use the toilets.

While queueing, Sam noticed two “AFAB [assigned female at birth] femme-presenting people were happily leaving” the men’s toilets.

Sam told PinkNews: “A very angry man, who announced that he worked at the Waggon and Horses, angrily barged past me and started shouting angrily [that] the women need to get out of the men’s, and stop using the men’s.

“It was Brighton Pride. In 2022. I pointed out to the angry man as gently as I could that [on Pride], of all the days of the year, forcing people to use a particular bathroom might not be the best decision.”

Sam said the staff member remained “unprofessionally angry” even after the people left the men’s bathroom, and Sam “quietly mentioned that his actions were transphobic”.

‘He was so full of rage’

Continuing on their way, Sam headed into the bathroom “with the apparently false sense of security that being a queer person at Brighton Pride brings”.

But the staff member ran at them in a “rage” while they were halfway into a cubicle, they said, and was reportedly so angry he inadvertently slammed their head with the cubicle door.

Although Sam said said they do not believe the staff member meant to slam the door into their head, they added: “In that moment it certainly felt like if the door had not been there, this man would have hit me.”

“I’m not here saying I was beaten up,” they said. “I’m saying that he was so full of rage that he ended up actually [hitting me with the door], he could have given me a concussion quite easily.”

Sam says they managed to get the door closed, and hid inside the cubicle “for what seemed like forever” and until they could no longer hear him. They then left the pub as quickly as possible, by which time Sam says they had a large lump on their head.

‘I was offered no apology’

Sam says the next day they returned to the Waggon and Horses to speak with the pub’s management about the staff member’s actions.

“I was offered no apology, rather I was met with aggression, and told that Pride had been a hard day for them,” they said.

Sam added the they were also told “people make up being non-binary so that they can use whatever bathrooms they want”.

They continued: “I’m ashamed to say that, after my discussion with them on Sunday morning, I tore a trans flag from their LGBTQ+ flag bunting, believing they did not have the right to fly it.”

Sam says they “instantly regretted” their actions, and offered to repair the bunting, but their offer was declined.

Sam wants equality training for bar staff across Brighton

“As a non-binary trans person who now passes as a cis male, the first time I used the male toilets was at a Pride event in London, back when I was visibly female,” Sam said, adding: “It was a joyous occasion.”

“To define a stranger’s gender and police the toilets they can use, especially at a Pride event in Brighton in 2022, is ostensibly a transphobic act.”

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination based on “gender reassignment”, and patrons of the pub are perfectly within their rights to use whichever toilet feels comfortable to them, Sam contends.

That is why they are calling for all Brighton venues to receive “mandatory gender and equality training”.

Sam says they have now physically recovered from the incident, and told PinkNews that after two weeks the bump on their head had gone down, just in time for their wedding.

Contacted for comment by PinkNews, Phil Payne, owner of the Waggon and Horses, said that on the day of Pride, “the pub was absolutely mental”.

He said the pub had opened up its toilets to the general public during Pride, even those who weren’t customers, which resulted in long queues. Payne vehemently denies there was any policing of the gender of people using the toilets, and says staff were simply trying to limit the number of people in the toilets at one time.

He said the staff member in question became angry because Sam was “making what was a very difficult situation even worse, and was the one who was being passive aggressive and calling [him] names”.

Payne said the staff member had “snapped” when Sam accused him of transphobia, but admitted: “It shouldn’t have happened. No matter what people do to you, you shouldn’t react. I know that.”

“He shouldn’t have reacted, and hopefully he wouldn’t react again,” he added.

“But there were some mitigating circumstances, do you know what I mean? And it’s certainly not the attitude of the pub, we’re certainly 100 per cent not transphobic in any way.”

Payne also denied saying customers were “making up being non-binary”, and instead said he was describing some men in the toilet queues making “a joke” out of Pride, and recreating the transphobic ‘I’m a lady’ Little Britain sketch.