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

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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.”

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. Full Report

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