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Drag Queen Erika Klash tweeted on Sunday that she was denied access to an Austin, Texas, Whataburger because she was in drag.
“Manager didn’t want me to enter and security blocked me from entering without citing any company policy. I am a professional artist, NOT a security threat,” Klash tweeted.
(1 of 2) I was just refused service at a @Whataburger in Austin, Texas because I was in drag. Manager didn’t want me to enter and security blocked me from entering without citing any company policy. I am a professional artist, NOT A security threat.— Erika Klash (@ErikaKlash) November 17, 2019
The tweet has been shared hundreds of times. Most people left comments apologizing to Klash and asking how they can help.
They're gonna need to change their bio apparently. That's awful. pic.twitter.com/sbvsnZ3OoG— Andrew Greener (@greener_andrew) November 17, 2019
Disheartened to read this and would never make an excuse for your mistreatment. That was super not cool. I've seen, and done, a lot of crazy shit in plenty of Whataburgers before. An artist in drag would not even top the list of "wild" things to happen in a Whataburger.— Gab (@manchldnthesand) November 17, 2019
I am so sorry that happened 😢 Absolutely disgusting behavior against such a kind and generous person. We’re all behind you @ErikaKlash!— Suzanne Egan (@donotcallmesuzy) November 17, 2019
Whataburger also tweeted to Klash apologizing for the incident at the campus-area location on Guadalupe Street.
We apologize you had a bad experience at Whataburger.— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) November 17, 2019
We love all of our customers & we are investigating the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident.
Please DM us your info,
We would really appreciate an opportunity to speak to you directly so we can address this.
But it appears like this isn’t the first time the Austin Whataburger location has denied access to someone in controversial fashion. In 2015, Tyler Grant, a genderqueer student at the University of Texas at Austin, was denied access from the location because they were wearing women’s clothes, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Someone took a video recording of the interaction between Grant, the security guard, and the manager.
“I really believe it was transphobia-driven, and I don’t think it had anything to do with what I was wearing,” Grant told the Express-News about the incident.
Whataburger said that the manager did not deny access to Grant because of their gender identity but because they were wearing an outfit that was “see-through.”
Austin has an ordinance that prohibits public “accommodations,” like restaurants, from discriminating against patrons for sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.
Grant considered legal action at the time. Four years later, a friend who was with Klash when she was denied access has said that the ACLU has been contacted about the incident.
Klash and her friend said the interaction didn’t stop them from getting their Whataburger. They went a little north to a different location in Austin.
We’ve reached out to Whataburger for a comment.
Sierra Juarez is a freelance journalist and fact-checker based in Mexico. She most enjoys writing about human rights and politics and working in audience engagement. Her work has appeared in the Texas Tribune, the Austin American–Statesman, and the San Antonio Current.