Skip to Content

Airbnb Is Under Fire for a Refusal to Rent to a Transgender Woman

FRANCE-TOURISM-ACCOMMODATION-INTERNET-AIRBNBFRANCE-TOURISM-ACCOMMODATION-INTERNET-AIRBNB
Airbnb does not currently have any anti-discrimination training for its hosts. MARTIN BUREAU AFP—Getty Images

A tweet from a well-known Hollywood producer now has the home-sharing company Airbnb under fire for taking almost one year to ban a host who denied the producer because she identifies as transgender.

In 2015, Shadi Petosky, producer of the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba and creator of the new Amazon show Danger & Eggs, was denied a stay by a host who felt “uncomfortable” because of her gender identity. On Sunday, she tweeted a screenshot of the host’s response. It went viral and received over 1,400 retweets.

 

In response to the outcry, Nick Papas, a spokesperson for Airbnb, wrote: “Discrimination has no place in the Airbnb community. We are removing this host from Airbnb.”

When the incident initially occurred, Airbnb did not remove the host even after Petosky privately complained to the company’s customer support, she said. The same host was later promoted to a “super host” status, which rewards hosts who get five-star reviews from guests, according to an article from USA TODAY.

As to why she just decided to tweet a screenshot of the Minneapolis-based host rejecting her, Petosky said that she wanted to bring a trans perspective into the larger conversation that has recently surrounded Airbnb and race issues, according to The Guardian. She also told Fortune that she hopes her experience will help combat the recent rise in talk that trans people [sexually] abuse children.

“With a higher profile, I have a responsibility. If these things are happening to me, they’re happening to other people,” she said.

 

When the host responded to Petosky expressing fear for her son being around a trans person, Petosky said she felt that the host was projecting her own bias against transgender people through her child.

“She is renting out her house to people, so I’m sure she is concerned about her kid’s safety,” she said. “But by profiling people and determining a trans person is unsafe is her bias. The idea that trans people are harmful to kids needs to go away.”

This comes at a time where the company has also been receiving criticism from black guests who say they are frequently denied because of their race, according to an article from The Guardian. Many black guests have been sharing their experiences with Airbnb through the hashtag #AirBnbWhileBlack.

Aribnb hosts have more power than traditional hotels, which takes reservations based on whether there’s vacancies. According to their website, hosts have the ability to choose who stays and when, which allows hosts to control their guest preferences. Despite the recent controversy surrounding the company, Airbnb does not currently have any anti-discrimination training for hosts.

“They have a long way to go,” Petosky said.