VULNERABLE, ABUSED WOMEN MUST NOW SLEEP NEXT TO BIOLOGICAL MEN?
[Editor’s note: The transgender individual in this story is referred to as a male for purposes of clarity, because he is a biological male who presents as a female, and because no legal record of his female identity or name change could be discovered through research.]
“They” said it wouldn’t happen under AO 96, which in 2015 liberalized Anchorage non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
They, meaning the ACLU and advocates for gender-neutral bathrooms, promised that no transgendered individual would ever abuse the law — they simply want a place to pee.
ENTER TIMOTHY ‘SAMANTHA’ COYLE
Along came Timothy Paul Coyle, also known as Samantha Amanda Coyle. He had other plans, plans that the ACLU lawyers had perhaps foreseen but dismissed.
Coyle was banging on the door of a shelter for abused women, and he was demanding entry.
In late January, Coyle was homeless, as he so often is. He was also inebriated and got into a fight at the Brother Francis Shelter, according those familiar with the incident. In some of his legal records, he lists Brother Francis Shelter as his home; readers can safely assume the staff is familiar with him.
The Brother Francis Shelter takes both homeless men and women, but because of the circumstances of his inebriation and fight, the staff sent him over to the Hope Center, which runs a shelter for abused and battered women who are homeless.
It’s likely that Brother Francis staff figured Coyle’s assumed female identity would be enough to get him in the door, and they were just trying to move him along.
The Hope Center is run by Christians, with over 30 church partners. It also runs a soup kitchen, a culinary school to train people for jobs, and offers showers and bathrooms for both men and women.
But at night, the sleeping mats are rolled out where the food was served hours earlier, and desperate women, some who are escaping human trafficking, find safe shelter in one big room, crammed next to each other on the floor.
The women sleep beneath a large wooden cross, while the staff does their laundry for them overnight. In the morning, they have breakfast before leaving the shelter, and the staff turns its attention to providing lunches, showers, and bathrooms for all homeless people in need.
The line for lunchtime soup starts up all over again, day after day, with hundreds of people served in a clean, relatively safe setting.
A TRIP TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM
The Christians running the Hope Center took one look at Coyle on the night of Jan. 28 and determined he needed medical attention; they gave him cab fare to get to the emergency room for treatment of his injuries, and they directed him to then go to the AWAIC shelter, which houses both abused men and women.
Coyle came back to the Hope Center the next day, Jan. 29, and tried to gain entry, but was also turned away, this time because he had shown up at the wrong time of day. The “women’s shelter” portion of the Hope mission doesn’t start until after 5 pm, and Coyle showed up in the early afternoon.
He had now been turned away twice.
A COMPLAINT IS FILED
Four days later, Coyle filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, saying that he had been discriminated against at a place that provides “public accommodation.” He alleges he was refused entry because he is transgendered. Transgendered means he is in a protected class of individual, his complaint says. He cannot be refused service.
The matter is now before the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, which has set a hearing for March 15. Will the commission rule that the Hope Center must accommodate those who appear to be biological men?
The Hope Center hopes not. It will argue that it is not a “public accommodation,” as it does not cater to the general public. Its showers and bathrooms and soup kitchen serve the homeless, but its women’s shelter is there to keep vulnerable abused women safe from the dangerous nights in Anchorage.
The Hope Center will also argue that it has a First Amendment right as a faith-based mission to operated its charitable services for women and exclude biological males so that women can sleep in a place that feels safe.
In fact, if the Hope Center had to admit men, it would not have the physical means to segregate them from the women.
WHO IS TIMOTHY PAUL COYLE?
His court records show that Coyle is a man with an extensive criminal record, including violent crimes. There are no court records found in extensive research by Must Read Alaska that pertain to his assumed female identity.
Coyle, 52, appears to have lived in Anchorage, Colorado and Idaho. He has a long list of prior arrests and convictions that include charges for armed robbery with a deadly weapon (dismissed by prosecution), and other theft charges, including shoplifting, resisting arrest, and violation of probation.
As late as January, 2017, his last interaction with the Alaska criminal justice system, the court referred to Coyle as a male, and no records were found for a name change.
But in June of 2017, the media said he was a woman. KTUU quoted Samantha Coyle as a client of Bean’s Cafe, a soup kitchen, where “she” was when a homicide took place outside. A man had been stabbed in what has become one of the most notoriously violent areas of the city, and Samantha Coyle was quoted.
Again in October, Alaska Public Media quoted Samantha Coyle in a story about Anchorage homelessness, referring to her as a woman. “She” told the reporter that there needs to be more affordable housing.
Alaska voter rolls list Timothy Coyle, age 52, whose address is the Brother Francis Shelter.
Coyle’s complaint is clean, legalistic, and notarized. He may have gotten help from Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC) in filing his complaint against Hope Center.
Coyle lists the AWAIC address as his home address on his complaint and he filed his complaint online:
Whether the complaint made to the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission is legitimate remains an unanswered question, since it’s hard to determine if Samantha Coyle is an actual legal person or operating under an assumed name. Samantha Coyle’s complaint is notarized.
If indeed AWAIC is helping transgendered persons file complaints against another women’s shelter over the issue of men seeking entry into a place reserved for the safety of traumatized women, then the AWAIC board of directors may have some new policy decisions to make.
VOTERS WILL DECIDE, COMMISSION WILL HEAR REAL CASE
At the same time the Equal Rights Commission is hearing the Coyle complaint against a women’s shelter, voters in Anchorage are being asked to reverse the Anchorage Assembly’s actions that prevent private businesses like the Hope Center from keeping men out of “intimate places,” when those places have an open architecture that doesn’t preserve privacy.
On the ballot voters will receive in the mail about March 15, they’ll be asked to vote yes or no on Proposition 1:
A yes vote will restrict access to public facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms and now, it appears, battered women’s shelters on the basis of sex at birth, rather than gender identity. It will allow private establishments such as businesses and religious organizations the right to make their own bathroom rules.
A no vote is against restricting access to facilities such as bathrooms or locker rooms. Members of the public would be free to use bathroom facilities consistent with the gender identification they might feel on a given day.
MUST WOMEN’S SHELTERS NOW BE OPEN TO MEN?
The vote that Anchorage voters cast between March 15 and April 3 will be pivotal to many nonprofits and charities serving battered women.
But what about the Hope Center’s women’s shelter? How will they decide who is a man or woman?
The Hope Center is accustomed to dealing with women who dress more masculinely in order to afford themselves more protection as homeless women.
The staff has to make a judgment about who is actually eligible to stay at the shelter. For instance, they don’t accept those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and they only accept homeless women. Their focus is on abused women, although for a few years they have had an agreement with the Brother Francis Shelter to accept overflow when the Brother Francis shelter is full. The Hope Center will take women from Brother Francis, if there’s room.
The women who come to the Hope Center for the night are usually suffering from some of the most horrible traumas imaginable. Their experiences with men have left them with what is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, in many cases.
That’s not something that proponents of gender-neutral intimate spaces have thought through:
- Former School Superintendent Carol Comeau wrote, “It is not true that the current law allows men to simply dress up as women to enter women’s restrooms. It is not true that the current law makes it more permissible for someone to harass anyone in public facilities.” But Comeau is not the one staffing the door of the women’s shelter. She’s speaking from on high as a retired educator. The people staffing the doors of shelters are now presented with men dressing up as women, and then filing complaints.
- Former lawmaker Arliss Sturgulewski wrote: “Proposition 1 is one of the most divisive, harmful initiatives I’ve seen on the ballot in our beloved city…Let’s be clear: Proposition 1 targets transgender individuals who want to safely and privately use public facilities, just like the rest of us. Most transgender individuals have been harassed using public restrooms, and many have been physically assaulted. The current non-discrimination law provides them with the freedom to choose the facilities in which they are comfortable and safe. That freedom should belong to the individual, not put up for a citywide vote.” (It’s unlikely she wrote that voters should not have a right to weigh in on important public policy, but she signed off on the op-ed and it was printed in the Anchorage Daily News).
But Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council wrote back in 2015: “While not fully repealing the misguided law, our intent is to bring balance and create equal protections for people of faith who want to live and work in the public marketplace without fear of governmental intrusion and legal intimidation.”
Minnery was prescient. It only took 30 months from the passage of AO 96 for a women’s shelter run by Christians in downtown Anchorage to come under attack for turning away biological males.
COMMISSION TO HEAR RESPONSE FROM HOPE CENTER
The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission is governed by nine commissioners appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Anchorage Assembly. The AERC also has six paid staff, including an executive director and staff attorney, three investigators, an intake and outreach coordinator, and a docket clerk.
The Commission meets on a regular basis in the Mayor’s Conference Room at City Hall (632 W. Sixth Ave., Suite 830), and the next meeting is March 15, from 6-7 pm, when this matter will be heard.