Chicago Man Who Identifies as Woman Sues Over City’s Ban on Toplessness in Bars

Sullivan-compressedCHICAGO — A Chicago man who identifies as a woman has filed a federal lawsuit over the city’s ban on toplessness in bars, asserting that it is discriminatory against women.

The 23-year-old man, who goes by Bea Sullivan-Knoff, was filed Wednesday and is the next step after city council members refused calls to relax Chicago’s nudity laws as they pertain to bars and strip clubs.

Current statutes outline that facilities holding liquor licenses may not “permit any employee, entertainer or patron to engage in any live act, demonstration, dance or exhibition on the licensed premises which exposes to public view … any portion of the female breast…”

Sullivan-Knoff, a self-described “queer transgender woman, poet, playright and performance artist,” asserts that in his case, performing topless would help to combat negative societal perceptions about those who identify as transgender.

“Since most of this negative rhetoric centers on the specifics of trans bodies, and most times invasively so, I most often perform about the body, which often involves the presence of my nude body or partially nude body onstage, in an attempt to reclaim a part of myself too often taken from me,” he said at a news conference last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sullivan-Knoff contends that the law, however, inhibits his freedom to present such performances.

“It has happened on numerous occasions that I’m told I’m not allowed to do a given performance in a given space,” he said. “And instead I have to come up with something that isn’t as artistically fulfilling for myself.”

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Therefore, Sullivan-Knoff’s lawsuit declares that the strip club performer “is seeking reclaim her body in the face of legislation and discrimination directed against transgender bodies, to make herself vulnerable and to create an impactful experience for the audience.”

His attorney states that the ban is unconstitutional.

“The law itself violates the First Amendment. It violates people’s rights for freedom of expression and freedom of speech in their performance,” Mary Grieb told reporters.

She asserts that the law is also sexist because the topless prohibition does not apply to men, and says that it is “archaic” to believe it is improper for women—or those who identify as women—to bear their breasts.

“In 2016, in a city as diverse as Chicago, there should not be an ordinance reflecting 19th century ideas about sex and gender,” Grieb said. “While men, whether as performers or patrons in Chicago’s hot and humid summers routinely remove clothing from their torsos—whether as artistic expressions or simply to cool off—women are prohibited from doing so due to the threat venues’ liquor licenses.”

She contended that the law “should be an embarrassment to a modern city in the 21st century.”

The city has not commented on the matter.

As previously reported, while the issue of “transgender” toplessness may be novel, the general movement for “topless equality” is becoming increasingly significant across America, and for some, may be considered the next “civil rights” movement.

Naked bike rides have also become an annual spectacle in major cities across the country, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles and even St. Louis, Missouri. Organizers advise participants to arrive as unclothed as they dare.

In Asheville, North Carolina, former Vice Mayor Carl Mumford and former Republican party County Chair Chad Nesbitt chastised Christians in 2012 for being silent about continued “Go Topless” events in the community.

“The faith based community, per usual, played it safe and didn’t say a word.  There remains a big difference in a house of worship and a religious country club devoted to member services,” the men declared. “Asheville has been called a ‘Cesspool of Sin’—it’s a title that fits and an opportunity for people of faith. Less so for people of comfort.”

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  • bowie1

    I would think health regulations would require both men and women to wear a top of some kind such as a shirt. I recall a sign that says…no shoes, no shirt, no service.

    • Amos Moses

      Burkini ………..

      • George

        burkini ha ha ha… has gone absolutely crazy hasn’t it…

  • balloonknot9

    Another contrived complaint with a weak reason. It also does not specify if she has breasts or not. Which I would think would make all the difference.

    • Amos Moses

      Gynecomastia ………

  • TammyHenson

    This has nothing to do with the transgender community. He/she/it is making an argument where there is none. It wants to flash it’s unnatural breasts in front of people. Go to a place that allows it. Why fight for a place that doesn’t want to see a man with tits?

    • TammyHenson

      Oh, I know why. They got their marriages. Now they need a new agenda.

    • Amos Moses

      It’s Pat …………….

    • hoss6556

      I’m not quite sure whether or not you have an understanding of this issue. There are two arguments for this case.

      The first argument is a first amendment issue regarding free speech, such as being toppless during a performance. In my opinion, this argument could possibly succeed, but it is quite simple for a local government to add post hoc compelling interest that would case the argument to fail in court, it depends on the type of scrutiny the court applies.

      The second argument is a violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. I believe this argument is not easily dismissed. Chicago Code § 4-60-140 prohibits the exposure of “[a]ny portion of the female breast at or below the areola” at any venue that serves liquor; however, men are permitted to be toppless. The law is applied differently based upon sex, thus violating the equal protections clause. Nevertheless, if the court finds the government has a compelling interest that adequately satisfies judicial scrutiny, then the legal argument will fail.

      Additionally, if we take your implication that Bea is a “man with tits” and apply the Chicago Code, then Bea would be legally permitted to be topless at these establishments.

      You also seem to not understand that this lawsuit isn’t trying to unwillingly force locals to permit toppless women. Instead, the lawsuit is aimed at the city wide ban in an effort to allow women to be toppless at consenting locales.

      I hope this clears things up for you.

      • TammyHenson

        Thanks maybe it does go a little deeper than what I had knowledge of.

        • hoss6556

          Glad I could help 🙂

  • ComeOnPeople!

    A stink in the nostrils of GOD…

  • Martin Smit

    He has such a wonderful Adam’s apple. Nobody should object to him going topless in a bar, although I really cannot understand why he would want to. I don’t know why he is so upset. He should keep his shirt on.

    • Amos Moses

      if he wants to go topless …. he should get that removed ….. then he would be ……….

  • Nidalap

    Once you get on board the perversion train, it DOES tend to keep on going right to the end of the line…

    • ConCern

      some thing like the ‘slipper slope’ it never fails.

  • Kingdom Ambassador

    “[B]ecause they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law … they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind….” (Hosea 8:1,7)

    Just one more consequence of today’s ever-intensifying whirlwind resulting from the wind sown by the late 18th-century founders when they replaced Biblical responsibilities for Enlightenment rights.

    For more, see blog article “America’s Road to Hell: Paved With Rights.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our blog and search on title.

    Then, find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the left-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that EXAMINES the Constitution by the Bible.

    • Grundune

      See I told you so. Ted R. Weiland aka Kingdom Ambassador doesn’t defend his position against valid criticism, he just mounts ad hominem attacks against anyone who exposes his true agenda which is to get the U.S. Constitution abolished.

      • Paladin

        Subjective baseless opinion is not VALID criticism.

        • Grundune

          Subjective baseless opinion is not immune to valid criticism.

    • Kingdom Ambassador

      Grundune is a Mormon who rejects Christ and the Word of God (see John 1:1-3, 14; 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 John 1:7-11, etc.) and whose “Doctrine and Covenants” demand he defend the Constitution as divinely inspired (D&C 101:80, etc.), much the same as he does the Book of Mormon. He knows if the Constitution is exposed for the biblically seditious document it is, that the entire Mormon house of cards comes tumbling down.

  • Gregory Alan of Johnson

    The fear of Yahweh-God needs to return to this land.