Transgender's Transpass problem

PHILADELPHIA - September 19, 2008 - Now, that problem is at the center of a lawsuit.

Charlene Moore-Arcila says she used to use a Transpass to ride SEPTA, and now she uses tokens.

This, after an incident in 2006 in which a driver did not let the 42-year-old male to female transgendered rider using her Transpass when boarding the bus.

The Transpass cards have stickers, with "M" for male and "F" for female.

Living as a woman, Charlene was using a female sticker. She says the driver told her she couldn't use the transpass, because she's not female.

But, she says, she's also been stopped when her transpass had a male ID sticker.

"There has been incidents where I have gone to get on a bus with a male transpass, presenting myself as a female, and a driver said I can't use it," Moore-Arcila said. "I'm like, can you make up your mind which I need to purchase?"

Charlene has filed a complaint with SEPTA, which maintains the stickers prevent fraud.

Richard Maloney of SEPTA said, "It's a matter of security, and in our case, of making sure the pass isn't passed on to someone else."

Moore-Arcila maintains the stickers are discriminatory, and her attorneys say the stickers do not prevent family members of the same sex from sharing a transpass. They argue it singles out people like their client.

The Philadelphia Human Relations Commission agreed Friday to investigate, and determine if the gender stickers violate the city's fair practices act.

SEPTA has challenged the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission's authority to hear a case about SEPTA, because SEPTA answers to the state.

The commission says they do have that authority, and SEPTA plans to appeal.

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