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Denny's Apologizes After Political Candidate Confronts Transgender Woman In Restroom

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Denny's is condemning what it calls "disrespectful behavior" by a California Republican congressional candidate after she complained to management that a man was using the women's restroom.

Jazmina Saavedra posted a video to her Facebook page Tuesday after complaining to management that a man was in the women's restroom at the Denny's at 635 Vermont Ave. in Koreatown.

In the video, Saavedra is heard asking the person inside a restroom stall, "Why are you using the ladies' room?"

"You're invading my privacy!" the person is heard responding.

"No, you're invading my privacy because I'm a woman," Saavedra shot back.

The person eventually emerges from the bathroom in a black hoodie and holding a purse before being escorted out of the restaurant.

"Next time use the men's room," Saavedra screams as the person leaves.

It was unclear whether the person seen in Saavedra's video identifies as female but reportedly told a Denny's employee that she is female.

"We need to have [proof] that [women] are in danger," Saavedra told CBS2 News Friday. "As a woman, I have the right to feel comfortable and secure in a private restroom."

Asked if she felt good about what she did, Saavedra said, "Of course."

"And for people who say that you shouldn't have done that?" asked CBS2 reporter Amy Johnson.

"Well, first of all, the law shouldn't be passed," Saavedra replied.

In 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring that single-stall toilets in the state be designated as gender-neutral.

Saavedra said she wants the law changed.

A statement from a Denny's spokesperson said a manager asked the person to leave after he observed "drug paraphernalia on the floor" of the bathroom and appeared to apologize for Saavedra's actions.

"There is no place for discrimination of any kind in our restaurants. We do apologize to our transgender guest and others in the restaurant that had to endure another customer's disrespectful behavior," the statement read.

Saavedra has been both lambasted and praised on social media for what some are calling an instance of transphobia.

"I think this video [shows] who is the victim, actually, in this video, and who is the person who is harassing and discriminating against," said Mariana Marroquin with the Trans Wellness Center. "I was in shock. It's painful because I'm part of the community, and I think we need to keep talking about this."

Marroquin added that people need to understand the state law regarding bathrooms and gender. She said she wants Saavedra to go to the Trans Wellness Center so she can better understand transgender people and what they have to endure every time they need to use a restroom.

"You use the restroom that you identify with," she said. "That's the law in California, and I think that's something that should need to be informed, especially when she's running for office."

Saavedra, a Republican candidate running in the 44th District, which spans from South Los Angeles to San Pedro, is running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan.

In a statement, Barragan condemned the video, saying each person has the "right to their own identity."

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