Los Angeles

Transgender Women Ousted From LA Bar Want Its Liquor License Revoked

An attorney for three transgender women who were physically removed from a downtown Los Angeles bar after a confrontation with a couple who allegedly hurled epithets and threats at them announced Thursday she has asked the state to revoke the establishment's liquor license.

The removal of Fernanda Celarie, Jennifer Cruz and Khloe Perez-Rios from Las Perlas on Aug. 23, 2019, was captured on cell phone video that was widely shown on local television reports, sparking questions about their treatment by bar staff. The women had gone to the bar with friends after attending a downtown DTLA Proud Festival.

After a video showing two trans women being forcefully removed from a downtown LA bar, protesters gather outside Las Perlas. Rick Montanez reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.

Officials with Las Perlas could not be reached for immediate comment on efforts by the women to have the bar's liquor license revoked. In August, Cedd Moses, the founder of Pouring With Heart, the company that owns the bar, initially said the bar's staff had acted in accordance with policy, but he later said a new security company had been hired and its staff had "received sensitivity training."

"Our first and primary concern … is to operate a safe place for all people. Period, no exceptions," according to the late-August statement from Las Perlas. "We regret that didn't happen (Aug. 23), and want to apologize to all of our guests including the Transgender community, a community who has come to our bar as well as works there. … This incident is not in alignment with who we are and our intent is to prove this in action and deed, not words and hyperbole."

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents the transgender women, said Thursday she has filed a complaint with California Alcoholic Beverage Control, seeking to have the bar's liquor license pulled.

"In California, the liquor board can revoke a bar's liquor license, quote, 'when the continuance of a license would be contrary to public welfare or morals,"' Bloom said. "Well, harassing, physically accosting and removing transgender women from a bar flies in the face of principles of equality and respect that California says it stands for. These actions are definitely contrary to public welfare and morals, and so we demand that the bar's liquor license be revoked as a result on this ground."

According to the women and Bloom, the group was at Las Perlas with friends when an "intoxicated" male-female couple approached them, threatened them and used a denigrating epithet. When the group complained, the couple were removed from the bar, but then bar security began to physically remove the transgender women, they said.

"One was placed in a chokehold, another pushed through the door, causing her to stumble down the stairs," Bloom said. "And outside, the transphobic man waved a large steel object and again threatened to kill them."

One of the women, Perez-Rios, said Wednesday she has "not been able to live my life in peace" since the incident.

"The trans community is one of the most vulnerable -- broken, scrutinized and forgotten when it comes to rights and social justice," she said. "I ask Angelenos today to help us ensure Las Perlas (and its owners) are held accountable for their transphobic actions. Because when there's no justice, there's no peace."

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