A unanimous panel of the Illinois Human Rights Commission is allowing charges of discrimination filed against Walmart for turning away a transgender man who sought to cash a money order in two stores, one in Lawrenceville, and the other in Olney in October 2021. The Commission members found that there was substantial evidence of discrimination that the Walmart stores had denied services to Skyler Hyatt simply because he was transgender.

“Being able to do something as basic as cashing a money order without harassment is critical to transgender people all across the State of Illinois,” said Skyler Hyatt who filed the charges. “My hope is that this ruling means that others will not suffer the humiliation and embarrassment I experienced at two Walmart stores.” 

The events under exploration took place when Hyatt presented a money order to be cashed at the Lawrenceville Walmart Supercenter. Along with the money order, Hyatt produced a valid Illinois driver’s license with the name matching the name on the money order. The license had the gender marked as Male, reflects Hyatt’s legal name of “Melissa” and a photo of Hyatt as then appeared with a short haircut and facial hair.

A Walmart supervisor looked at the money order and state identification and made a face of disgust. Feeling nervous, Hyatt made a joke about the old Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue,” and then explained he was transgender and had been unable to change his name because of the cost of the process. The supervisor rolled her eyes and denied service to Hyatt.

A few days later, Hyatt and his wife traveled to another Walmart Supercenter, this time in Olney. Again, he presented a valid driver’s license and money order, with the names aligned on both documents. This time, Hyatt was told that Walmart would not cash the money order because it had been “red flagged.”

The following day, Hyatt and his wife opened a new bank account at Peoples State Bank in Sumner, Illinois. They used the money order to open the account. When they told the bank employee that Walmart would not cash the money order, she was puzzled and said that it didn’t make sense since the documents all matched. 

“We are grateful that the Commission is allowing Skyler’s complaint to move forward,” said Michelle García, Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois who is representing Hyatt in his complaint. “As we celebrate Pride month this June, it is gratifying to see that the Commission is committed to enforcing the Human Rights Act’s protections based on gender-identity and sex in every corner of the state.”

“In the days after talking to the bank employee, I began to think that I needed to tell my story,” added Hyatt. “A lot of young people – young, transgender people – will rely on a place like Walmart to cash their first paycheck or a money order from a family member.” 

“I don’t want them to go through this sort of discrimination.” 

The findings can be read here: Store 254, Store 550