« Accused of transphobia, the Rennes LGBT bar La Part des Anges in turmoil »

Translation (mainly DeepL) from this article published in regional newspaper Ouest-France, by Ambre Lefèvre, 17/05/2023

The feminist association Nous Toutes 35 called for a boycott of the Rennes bar La Part des Anges, which was closed a few days after the publication of the press release on 11 May 2023. The story of a controversy that is tearing apart the LGBT+ community in the Breton capital.

Did La Part des Anges, the emblematic LBGT+ bar on rue Saint-Melaine in Rennes, close down? Its owner, Orane Guéneau, says she closed it « to protect her employees ». She laid off her staff for economic reasons and now only opens occasionally, for an hour or two. She does not exclude selling the establishment.

« I am forced to close after the attack we experienced », explains the fifty-year-old. The window was tagged and a pane broken, it was very violent for the employees and customers, the bar was full ». On Friday 14 April 2023, the words « TERFS » were written on the window of La Part des Anges, in the margins of a demonstration against pension reform. In activist circles, the word refers to women who believe that the feminist struggle should not include transgender people.

Accusations of transphobia

An accusation which she denies: « My bar has always been an inclusive bar ». However, on Thursday 11 May, Nous Toutes 35 called on social networks to boycott La Part des Anges. « With this statement, we want to protect Rennes women by informing them about the aggressions that trans and intersex people are regularly victims of in this place », says the feminist association.

In response, Orane Guéneau announced that she had filed a complaint for « defamation and private and public insults, harassment and cyber-harassment, and moral and physical harm ». « I have been harassed for five years. I had let it go until my bar was tagged, » she explained.

And she added: « Where are the facts in the accusations? ». Stories of transphobic remarks, outing and misgendering have been circulating on social networks and in the Rennes LGBT+ community for several years. The various people Ouest-France met, former employees or people close to the boss, confirm having seen or experienced this kind of situation.

A generational conflict?

Orane Guéneau refutes the accusations of aggression but acknowledges that « some clumsiness about the pronouns to use ». Is it a generational conflict that is tearing the Rennes community apart? The issue of trans identity has become more prevalent in recent years. « We didn’t talk about cisgender people when I was younger, » claims the woman who says she is a lesbian.

On the side of those who point out her remarks, the stage of clumsiness is over. « Today, she holds a discourse of the TERF movement », deplores a person close to her, who has now distanced herself from the owner of the bar. When asked, Orane Guéneau said that « trans people should be respected and have rights, and lesbian women who are born female should also have a space for themselves ».

« There are trans people who are lesbians, and they should not be put aside », is the response in the community. Where is the line between what can be discussed and what is unacceptable? « She may have these views, but that doesn’t legitimise her attitudes, » says one LGBT+ activist.

« The aim is not to bring Orane down, but to protect the victims: the bar is not safe for the community, but it’s surfing on this identity », summarises another person who has long been close to her.

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