Trans group wants answers when Florida Publix refuses to decorate a cake the way they ordered

An Orlando, Florida Publix bakery refused to write “trans” on a non-profit Peer Support Space cake for a Trans Joy Event that was requested by two social workers, with a manager telling them, “I’m sorry we can’t write that. Publix is not allowed to take a stance on this issue.”

Naturally, outrage ensued and spread to the local transgender community. Dandelion Hill, who is the co-founder of the group, wanted the cake for the event on April 26 and chose the Colonialtown Publix to order it. It did not turn out the way the person hoped it would.

Hill is transgender and goes by they/them pronouns. The social worker asked the bakery to write a simple, “wholesome” message in pink icing on the sheet cake proclaiming “Trans people deserve joy.”

The transgender claimed to feel something wasn’t right when the bakery worker hesitated after the request was made.

“The person working at the bakery said, ‘I will be right back’,” Hill told the New York Post on Thursday. “I was kind of stewing in anxiety because I had a feeling like, ‘Uh oh, I think something’s brewing, I think something’s wrong.”

The transgender claimed to have waited for what “felt like an eternity” before the manager of the bakery “comes back, looks me directly in the eyes and says, ‘I’m sorry we can’t write that. Publix is not allowed to take a stance on this issue.’”

Hill dramatically asserted feeling “shot down” from shock over the refusal.

“I’m trying to give a message of hope to our community and I feel like I’m getting shot down right at that moment,” the transgender remarked. “It was really just hurtful.”

Co-founder of Peer Support Space, Yasmin Flasterstein, returned from the restroom at that point and “took over” the conversation. Flasterstein told the bakery employees, “You cannot take a stance on whether or not trans people deserve joy.”

A number of store employees told them that there was nothing they could do because it was company policy.

I don’t think it was any of the staff’s fault,” Hill commented, referring to one employee who told them she had trans friends and “tearfully” agreed to write “people deserve joy.”

The employee then gave the social workers some pink icing and left a space at the top of the cake so they could write in “trans” themselves. They did so in their car, according to Hill.

Following the incident, Flasterstein contacted Publix’s corporate officer in an attempt to determine whether a company policy exists that would prohibit an employee from writing “trans” on a cake. It sounds like it was potentially in preparation for yet another lawsuit.

“There was a miscommunication somewhere that [the employees] really felt that they could not write something like this,” Hill stated. “All we want to know and all we want clarity on, is like where did that go wrong? … What’s the narrative where people are fearful to write this and where did it come from?”

Flasterstein then ran to The Washington Post with the story. Publix sent the social worker an email that stated the employees should have agreed to write the message.

“Our policy indicates that our associates may write statements that are not copyrighted or trademarked, support a charitable cause, are factual and considered to have a positive connotation,” Publix noted in the email.

“As we indicated in our Facebook conversation, our associates should have fulfilled your request,” the company asserted apparently in an attempt to head off legal action. Publix had previously apologized to Flasterstein on Facebook.

That wasn’t enough for Flasterstein who also demanded an apology be given to Hill “who faced the brunt of this incident and broke down in sobs in front of other shoppers.”

Peer Support Space is an LGBTQ-community-focused nonprofit that was founded by Hill and Flasterstein following the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting where 49 people were killed and 53 others were wounded.

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