Trans man alleges discrimination at SE Illinois Walmart stores

Walmart Supercenter. Photo from rawpixel

A transgender man says he was denied service at Walmart Supercenters in Lawrenceville and Olney in a complaint filed with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

Walmart Inc. had not responded to a request for comment as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Skyler Hyatt has said that he tried to cash a money order at two separate stores in October 2021. At one store, according to a statement from the ACLU of Illinois, a supervisor showed disgust toward him.

“What should have been a simple transaction turned into an embarrassing and painful experience,” said Hyatt in filing the complaint. “Transgender people like me exist in every corner of Illinois. And many of us depend on services from stores like Walmart to navigate life without outing ourselves at every turn.”

Walmart’s official policy states support for the LGBTQ community, including benefits for LGBTQ employees. Illinois state law bars discrimination on the basis of orientation or gender identity.

In October 2021, Hyatt presented a money order to be cashed at the Lawrenceville store. Along with the money order, Hyatt produced a valid Illinois driver’s license with the name matching the name on the money order. The license had the gender marked as male, had his legal name and a photo of Hyatt as he appears today with a short haircut and facial hair. Hyatt has been unable to afford the process of changing his name under Illinois law. 

According to Hyatt, a Walmart supervisor looked at the money order and state identification and made a face of disgust. He made a joke about the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue,” and then explained he had been unable to change his name because of the cost of the process. The supervisor rolled her eyes and denied service to Hyatt.

When he tried at the Olney location a few days later, he was told the money order was “red-flagged” and denied service again. He was able to use the money order to open a bank account the next day. The teller at Peoples State Bank reportedly told him that it didn’t make sense for Walmart to not cash the money order since his documents were in order.

“The name on the money order and identification aligned, and the photo on the license matched Skyler’s appearance,” said Michelle García, Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois who is representing Hyatt in his complaint. The only reason that Walmart repeatedly denied Skyler service is that he is transgender. And that is a clear violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.”

The charges were filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights on Aug. 12.