Airbnb has come under fire (again) after a transgender guest was denied by a host who felt “uncomfortable”.
What is interesting here, is that this actually happened back in 2015, but Airbnb did not remove the host from their service. They actually elevated her to a “Superhost”, which rewards more experienced hosts with multiple five star reviews from guests.
It has come up again now thanks to a viral tweet from the trans guest who was denied, a well known producer by the name of Shadi Petosky. Currently, Airbnb is under scrutiny due to numerous complaints from black guests who have complained of being regularly denied due to their race.
Shadi took this opportunity to show that race is not the only issue that effects Airbnb users.
— Shadi Petosky (@shadipetosky) June 5, 2016
I don’t need anything. I have a lot of privilege in travel. Just adding to the knowledge that the sharing economy can/does discriminate.
— Shadi Petosky (@shadipetosky) June 6, 2016
In contrast to their previous actions, Airbnb was quick to respond to the viral tweet. Public affairs director Nick Pappas saod: “Discrimination has no place in the Airbnb community. We are removing this host from Airbnb.”
Shadi spoke on how they responded to her complaint when she originally made it back in 2015: “They asked me who she was but didn’t take her off the platform then. She became a super host/ But now that there’s this larger conversation around Airbnb and race, so I just posted to add the trans perspective.”
“I usually just say that I’m transgender in an intro email. I don’t want to arrive at a scene and feel unsafe. For trans people we’re just so often seen as trying to trick people. I think that she’s using kind of coded language that is really effecting trans people right now.”
“The idea that we’re negatively impacting kids or hurting children is a really hard thing for trans people. People are using their children to discriminate against trans people. They don’t realize we’re parents, too,”
Pappas has yet to respond to the 2015 incident, but did say: “We are conducting a comprehensive review and examining what can be done to ensure we resolve these kinds of issues quickly and help make sure everyone is treated fairly.”
Airbnb is, as you might know, a home sharing service that puts more control in a host’s hands than a traditional hotel. The service lets hosts see headshots of their guests and speak with them beforehand, as hosts will often be staying in the home at the same time as the guest. This is a layer of security that is definitely needed for the safety of the host and any family, but it can also be used to discriminate.
The issue is that there is no discrimination “training” or de-activation of hosts who systematically discriminate against guests for their race or gender identity. This seems to fly in the face of Airbnb’s very gay-friendly advertising campaign and has even sponsored San Francisco pride. There is no issue with the control the host has, given that they are often renting out space in their home while they are present, but there needs to be measures for when a host regularly discriminates.