Trans Man Advised to Use Women's Restroom Then Beaten Up and Arrested

A transgender man who says a campground owner told him to use the women's restroom at the site says he was beaten up by a group of men and arrested after a dispute with other guests over his presence there.

Noah Ruiz had tried to use the women's restroom at the campground in Preble County, Ohio, but a woman using the bathroom became upset he was in there because he is a man.

The 20-year-old told local news channel Fox 19: "I was using the bathroom, and she just started shouting. She was like, 'Who the f*** is in here?' And I replied, 'I am.' My girlfriend replied, 'I am as well.' She was like, 'No man should be in this bathroom. If you're a man you need to use a man's bathroom.' And I was like, 'I'm transgender. I have woman body parts, and I was told to use this bathroom.'"

Ruiz told Newsweek that the owner of Cross's Campground in Camden is a family friend who was aware of his transition, and advised him to use the women's restroom because he has not yet undergone any surgeries and thought it "would be safer."

Restroom sign
A transgender man said he was attacked after using the ladies' room. Stock image: A sign advises that separate restrooms are available for men and women. Getty Images

"So we respected his wishes and did as he asked," Ruiz added, noting the irony of the violence that later occurred as a result. After the woman accused him of being a man, people outside the bathroom became involved.

"The men thought I was a cis man [a man who was born male] trying to be in the women's [restroom]," he said. "After I clarified I am transgender, they continued to call me a 'f**' and insisted I was male-to-female when I am in fact female-to-male. They yelled slurs and disagreed with the fact of me being transgender throughout the rest of the incident and continued to physically attack me while screaming slurs."

He said he was left cut and bruised after the assault and was badly shaken.

"This incident has been traumatizing...I honestly just started freaking out inside and getting very defensive when being hit," Ruiz said. "I bawled my eyes out...and was just hyperventilating. I was angry, I was sad, I was hurt, and I was confused. I grew up in that campground and everyone knew me and was friends with my family so it took a turn for me when I thought I was safe."

After the assault, the dispute continued to escalate with more campers arriving at the scene, police said.

Preble County Sheriff Michael Simpson said: "When they arrived, deputies weren't [initially] aware of an assault [against Ruiz]. There was a large crowd gathering and Ruiz was highly intoxicated and was becoming belligerent."

Ruiz's mother, Jennifer Ruiz, told Fox 19 that her son had "got out of hand" by this point, but only because "no one was listening to him."

Deputies arrested Ruiz for disorderly conduct and obstructing official business.

Ruiz confirmed to Newsweek that he had been drinking when the confrontation occurred, but claimed everyone else involved was, too. He insisted the men who attacked him should not go unpunished.

He added: "I understand my charges and will take them and deal with them, but the men who caused me this pain and agony should not be walking free. We are human. Even if we don't meet their standards of a human."

The sheriff's office confirmed Ruiz filed an assault report after his arrest, adding their investigation is continuing and they are looking for the men involved.

Newsweek has reached out to the sheriff's office for further information.

Americans' views on gender identity have become more complex and nuanced over time, a new study showed in June, but the survey suggested that the majority supports transgender rights and laws protecting trans people from discrimination.

As governments and societies grapple with complex issues about identity, single sex spaces, and fairness—such as in sport—a number of celebrities have waded into the debate. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson was widely condemned over accusations of transphobia after tweeting vulgar remarks about actor Elliot Page.

In June, Olympic swimmers welcomed a decision to ban transgender women from competing in women's events, citing an unfair advantage conferred on athletes who had previously undergone male puberty. The new policy adopted by FINA, the sport's governing body, means that only swimmers who transitioned before the age of 12 will be permitted to compete in women's events. The organization plans to create a separate "open" category so any athlete can participate at at elite level.

Update 07/13/22, 1:17 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments by Noah Ruiz.