AUGUSTA — A would-be tenant who claimed a landlord discriminated against her because of her transgender status won support Monday from a human rights panel.

JackieRay Mays was living in Chelsea when she unsuccessfully sought to rent an apartment in Augusta from Tisdale Management Company of Clinton on June 26, 2009.

“They just obviously did not want to rent to me,” Mays said in a telephone interview after the hearing. “That was the impression I got.”

Mays now lives in Augusta, in a different apartment.

Mays told Maine Human Rights Commission investigator Angela Tizon that the agent showing the apartment did not have an application at the showing, then the landlord delayed sending her an application — and later lost one Mays submitted — because of her transgender status.

Mays received an application on July 7, 2009, and submitted it the next day, but was told 10 days later it had not been received, Tizon wrote.

A couple who viewed the apartment on June 30, 2009, and who submitted their application June 30, 2009, was allowed to occupy the unit.

Tizon concluded that, as a result of the delay, Mays lost a fair opportunity to apply for the apartment and was subject “to less favorable terms and conditions of the rental application status.”

The commission upheld that recommendation at a meeting Monday. There were no oral arguments in the case.

Robert Tisdale III, company owner, said Monday he lost largely because he did not respond to a notice from the commission.

“I didn’t realize it was that important,” he said. “I didn’t even know she was transgender until she called me up and told me.”

He said efforts to resolve the case prior to the commission finding had failed.

The company has 53 rental units in Maine, Tisdale said.

Patricia Ender, a lawyer with Pine Tree Legal Associates who represented Mays, said Pine Tree Legal Associates has funding to represent individuals in cases involving illegal discrimination in housing.

Since December 2005, the Maine Human Rights Act has outlawed discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation.

Ender said this is the first housing discrimination case involving a transgender issue she is aware of that reached the commission level.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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