What was supposed to be a fun weekend for a family from Watrous, Sask., took a turn for worse following an incident that is being described as gender discrimination at a Regina hotel.

Sixteen-year-old Casper Foster and his family came to Regina on the weekend of Feb. 4, 2023, for a birthday swimming celebration for his sister at the Seven Oaks Hotel. Foster was approached by a hotel staff member informing him that t-shirts were not permitted at the pool.

It was at that moment that Foster’s mother approached to see what the interaction was about.

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“It’s really disheartening,” said Foster’s mother, Shannon Monteyne. “I’m not normally (a) Karen but when my kids are involved, damn rights, I’m mama bear.”

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The staff member told Monteyne that t-shirts were not allowed in the pool, and she informed the staff member that her son is transgender who did not have top surgery and explained that he was wearing a t-shirt because he’s not comfortable in women’s bathing suits.

“He’s wearing a t-shirt out of modesty’s sake … she leaves for a moment and comes back and (was) even ruder,” she said. “There (were) plenty of other people wearing street clothes in the pool, too. Why (was) it just my son that’s being singled out?”

At that point, Foster was mortified as the pool was filled with dozens of patrons. Foster, who has existing anxiety issues since he came out a few years ago as a transgender male, caused him to relive that feeling of not being accepted.

“I do not do well in public in general. So having been told to leave a public area in front of so many other people when everyone else was doing the same thing was really overwhelming for me,” said Foster.

“It was kind of embarrassing and degrading almost … transgender individuals go through so much on a daily basis, like we’re targeted for no reason.”

Monteyne spoke with the manager the following day who apologized for the experience her son had but stated that “rules are rules.”

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“I honestly think that it was gender discrimination. They had a choice … they could have made this right,” she said. “People shouldn’t be treated like that.”

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Monteyne made a post on social media about her family’s experience and received a lot of feedback and messages of support. She also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission and hopes the Seven Oaks Hotel and others can learn from this experience to be more aware and inclusive to everyone.

“People need to do better,” she said. “We’re just hoping that … nobody else will get treated like that … that’s all you can hope for is to make a little bit of a difference.”

In an email statement, the co-chair from Regina Pride Inc., said this situation could have been negated if the pool employee had more training on trans issues and suggests that Seven Oaks hotel to apply for Positive Space Training for their front-of-house staff members.

“I understand that cotton fibers can mess with the pool’s filtration system, and there are pool dress codes (in place) for reasons like that. But it sounds like the employee didn’t make this point clear and came at the situation poorly,” stated Lisa Phillipson.

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“I hope the Seven Oaks takes this complaint seriously and aims to better themselves and their guests’ experiences in the future.”

The City of Regina offers a program called “All Bodies Swim” which is a drop-in leisure swim for people who are transgender, non-binary and/or gender non-conforming and their allies. In a statement, the City said this program aims for inclusion and diversity.

“This pilot program was designed in consultation with local 2SLGBTQIAP+ people and partner organizations as part of our commitment to creating safe, inclusive spaces,” according to an emailed statement.

Global News contacted the Seven Oaks Hotel but did not hear a response in time of publishing.

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