Trans YouTuber Says Airbnb Host Denied Her Housing Because She Is Transgender
How many times do we have to teach you this lesson, Airbnb?
Airbnb has been a consistent source of internet ire and amusement; from some of the strangest Airbnbs possible to an ever growing list of controversies, it seems that this company is always in the news for one reason or another.
Despite attempts to brand themselves as accepting and diverse, at the end of the day, Airbnb is a multibillion-dollar internet startup and will behave as such. And that behavior unfortunately includes doing very little to fight discrimination being faced by many of their guests.
A recent tweet from YouTuber Sophie from Mars is evidence enough of that.
YouTuber Sophie from Mars was traveling abroad with a group of friends for facial feminization surgery. Despite Airbnb’s policy of no discrimination, Sophie’s “host” was immediately less than sociable, telling her that the apartment was for “families” and asked her to clarify if the group of guests was made up of “girls or boys.” Sophie said they were all girls.
Then the “host” started demanding pictures. Sophie (wisely) did not respond. The host then attempted to FaceTime Sophie—which she declined—and sent three more messages, saying, “Please answer,” “no trasgender” (yes, they misspelled transgender), and “family apartment is.”
This is bad enough as is, but Airbnb’s response has, of course, made it worse.
Sophie tweeted that Airbnb tried to “fob us off their support lines” and that they repeatedly misgendered Sophie’s girlfriend. They are still waiting on a refund and have not been given any assistance with booking another place. Meanwhile, the host’s account and listing are still active.
Fifty minutes after Sophie’s first tweet, the official Airbnb Help Twitter account responded with the following:
None of this actually goes into what actions AirBNB is taking to help Sophie and her friends, nor what consequences the host will be receiving for such appalling behavior.
Thankfully, the Twitter users who saw the response were not buying it.
Reminder: Airbnb has been in business for 14 years, and during that time, we’ve seen them continually fail to protect both guests and hosts from discrimination. To be “fair” to them, they have changed how the booking system has worked in the past to account for discrimination, but that usually comes after lawsuits are filed to hold the company accountable for their host’s behavior.
And obviously, this new system is still failing to fix the issues.
Honestly, at this point, I’m wondering if Hosts and guests even need to know any personal information about each other apart from records of past stays and number of guests. Sophie’s unfortunate circumstance has certainly made a reasonable case for the hosts not having access to the guests’ cell phone numbers. Just have hosts and guests communicate through the app at this point.
Between discrimination, rising prices, competition, and people starting to realize that Airbnb is hurting housing costs, Airbnb doesn’t have a lot going for it. If they genuinely care about making Airbnb for everyone like they say, then they need to put their money where their mouth is and make sure that guests are protected and hosts can’t get away with BS behavior like this.
(featured image: Airbnb)
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Sophie was traveling for gender reassignment surgery. It has been updated to facial feminization surgery upon receiving a correction from Sophie.
[Update 9/2: A member of the Airbnb Public Affairs team told The Mary Sue, “We banned this host yesterday per our non-discrimination policy after being made aware of what happened.”]
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