A 36-year-old transgender man from downstate Illinois filed charges of discrimination against Walmart after being denied services to cash a money order in two stores, one in Lawrenceville, and the other in Olney. The incidents, which happened in October 2021, left Skyler Hyatt feeling humiliated and embarrassed. The first incident was made more painful when a Walmart supervisor expressed disgust by rolling her eyes at Skyler.
“What should have been a simple transaction turned into an embarrassing and painful experience,” said Hyatt in filing the complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. “Transgender people like me exist in every corner of Illinois. And many of us depend on services from stores like Walmart to navigate life without outing ourselves at every turn.”
“As a corporation that claims to support LGBTQ rights across the country, my hope is that Walmart can make sure that no other transgender person experiences this discrimination again.”
The events at question took place in October 2021, 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 he appears today with a short haircut and facial hair. Hyatt has been unable to afford the process of changing his name under Illinois law to reflect his identity as Skyler Hyatt.
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 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 name on the money order and identification aligned, and the photo on the license matched Skyler’s appearance,” said Michelle García, Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois who is representing Hyatt in his complaint. The only reason that Walmart repeatedly denied Skyler service is that he is transgender. And that is a clear violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.”
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.
“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 process their first paycheck or a gift from a family member.”
“I don’t want them to go through this sort of discrimination.”
The charges were filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights on August 12th.