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Transgender man sues NY City over locker room access

By Bernard Vaughan

New York, Reuters - A transgender man has sued the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for discrimination, saying staff at a public pool told him to use the women's locker room.

"They harassed and humiliated me," Bryan Ellicott said in a statement Monday announcing the lawsuit in state court.

The lawsuit asks the court to rule for the first time that denying transgender people use of a restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity is discrimination in violation of New York City human rights law, the statement said.

Last July, Manhattan-based Ellicott, 24, was in the men's locker room at a public pool in Staten Island when a male staff member told him he had to use the women's locker room or leave, according to the lawsuit. When he asked to see a supervisor, two more male staff members repeated the demand.

The lawsuit has been filed on Ellicott's behalf by the non-profit Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

Michael Silverman, executive director of the fund, said in an interview that the city's human rights law prevented discrimination against transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodation,

"We need the courts to step forward and state that those protections include protections for access to bathrooms and locker rooms," he said.

Ellicott has been living as a male since February 2012, when he began hormone therapy, the lawsuit said.

A representative of the New York City Law Department, which defends the city in civil lawsuits, said in an email: "We will review the lawsuit when we are served."

The case is Bryan John Ellicott v. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, New York state Supreme Court, New York County, No. 155391.

(Editing by Ted Botha and Eric Walsh)