Winn-Dixie Tries To Shut Down; Activists Step Up Holiday Protests for Firing Cross-Dresser

December 18, 2001 12:00 am

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NEW ORLEANS, LA – Winn-Dixie Stores, the Southern grocery giant and major Fortune 500 company that has been under attack for 14 months for firing a truck driver who cross-dressed off-duty, is trying to shut down a web site protesting the company’s actions, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

“”Winn-Dixie fired Peter Oiler because they thought he’d harm the company’s image — but now they see it’s their own discrimination that’s harming their image,”” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.

For the second holiday season in a row, provides background on Oiler, as well as information on the ACLU’s pending federal lawsuit on his behalf. Oiler worked for nearly 20 years at Winn-Dixie’s Louisiana branch before being fired for occasionally cross-dressing away from work. The web site, created and maintained by a coalition of activists working with the ACLU, also includes contact information for Oiler’s former supervisors and executives involved in firing him.

In a letter to a transgendered woman in rural Alabama who helped design the web site more than a year ago, Winn-Dixie’s corporate attorney demanded that the web site be removed from the Internet “”immediately.”” Coles said Winn-Dixie’s demands are groundless.

Today, Winn-Dixie’s letter to the Alabama woman was posted on, along with a new Action Alert urging people to call and e-mail Winn-Dixie’s national President and CEO, Al Rowland, to express their opposition to Oiler’s firing and the company’s attempts to stifle protests.

“” isn’t going anywhere,”” said Courtney Sharp, a transgendered activist in New Orleans who helped organize the web site and the holiday-time mobilizations. “”This attempt to bully us out of holding Winn-Dixie accountable won’t work. We’re more energized than ever because our message is clearly getting through, and Winn-Dixie is nervous.””

Meanwhile, activists in Georgia and Florida announced that they are continuing plans to protest outside Winn-Dixie national headquarters in Jacksonville on Jan. 4, marking the two-year anniversary of Oiler’s firing and honoring Terrianne Summers, the transgendered woman who led efforts for anti-Winn-Dixie protests for the last two years and was murdered last week in a possible hate crime.

“”Two years after Peter Oiler lost his job – nearly costing him and his wife their home – we will tell Winn-Dixie that its actions are appalling, and that we haven’t forgotten,”” said Jessica Archer, Executive Director of the Florida Organization for Gender Equality. Details and updates on the Jan. 4 protest and other ongoing activity will continue to be posted at

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