Airbnb Facing Allegations of Allowing Discrimination Against Transgender, African-American Guests

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Airbnb has been accused of discrimination several times this year, including a lawsuit from the founder of #AirbnbWhileBlack and, yesterday, a host denying a transgender guest accommodation.

In the latter case, Hollywood producer Shadi Petosky, the transgender woman involved in the incident, told her host that she was transgender and was then denied a reservation. “I really appreciate your honesty. I’ll have to pass though, but thank you,” the host responded to Petosky’s request. “I have a 13-year-old boy going through puberty. I don’t want him to feel any discomforts in his own home. Again, thanks for your inquiry & honesty!”

The host who turned Petosky away has recently been removed from Airbnb, but the incident occurred more than a year ago. Petosky told BuzzFeed News that she sent a formal complaint to Airbnb, but didn’t get a response. Previously, the discriminatory host was promoted to a “superhost.” Though Airbnb currently has a policy that protects guests from discrimination over sexual orientation, it does not have a specific policy that protects LGBTQA users from discrimination.

Last week, another host in North Carolina was removed after sending hateful racist remarks to a guest: “I hate n— so I’m going to cancel you,” wrote the host. “This is the south darling. Find another place to rest your n— head.”

Some former Airbnb users are turning to alternatives, such as Noirbnb and Noirebnb, which will launch later this summer. The two start-ups, created by African-American people who felt discriminated against while using Airbnb, will aim to help black travelers find housing, free of hateful discrimination. Both services will also be open to users who aren’t black.

”[Airbnb] slept, so we’re solving it ourselves,” tweeted Noirbnb. “Our founders have been working on Noirbnb for months to make sure that our people aren’t discriminated against ever again while traveling.”

Misterb&b is another alternative to Airbnb for gay men that launched four years ago, after the founder felt discriminated against by his Airbnb host.

Airbnb is also receiving complaints about not hiring enough African Americans and Latinos. According to USA Today, Airbnb is creating a new program to recruit more underrepresented minorities in computer science and data science, and to review “how hosts who rent their homes on Airbnb pick guests” with help from Laura Murphy, former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office.

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