— A Vermont tattoo artist is facing felony charges after posing in court as a transgender woman and attempting to use a public restroom to conceal her identity.
Brenton Williams, 33, of Burlington, has been charged with using a public facility to commit a felony, a Class B misdemeanor, according to court documents filed Friday.
Williams, who is being held on $500,000 bond, was arraigned Tuesday in Vermont’s 3rd Judicial District Court.
Williams has been with the Burlington-based Tattooers’ Gallery for about five years, according the gallery’s website.
According to the court documents, Williams used the name of “Tanya,” a female who identifies as female, to enter a restroom at the gallery.
The bathroom was occupied by two other men and one female employee, according court documents.
Williams pretended to use the male restroom and was asked to leave, according a court affidavit.
Williams allegedly asked the male employee, identified only as “D,” for a receipt.
The male employee allegedly showed the receipt, and Williams allegedly took a picture and sent it to D, according an affidavit.
The court document says Williams then “asked the female employee for identification and provided a picture of her hand,” according to the affidavit.
The female employee then provided a photograph of herself, the affidavit says.
A Burlington police officer was present when the encounter occurred, according, and an investigation was launched.
A tattoo artist from New Hampshire told ABC News he is surprised to see a man impersonating a woman, given the prevalence of transphobia in the U.S. The tattoo artist, who asked to remain anonymous, said he doesn’t believe Williams acted alone, according.
“I’m surprised, because I’ve been around this kind of stuff my whole life, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” the tattoo artist said.
The tattoo artist added that if people thought Williams was a transvestite, they should have seen him “playing the role of a transgender person” before the incident.
The gallery’s founder, Jason McElwee, has since canceled classes, he said.
McElwe, who runs the gallery out of a garage, said that Williams’ actions were inappropriate, but that he was not aware of any incidents involving Williams.
“It’s kind of a surprise to me,” McElwene said.
“It’s unfortunate that somebody would do something like that, but the reality is he has to live up to his reputation.
He’s done his job, he’s been in business for a long time.”
A public restroom in Burlington, Vermont, is filled with women, men and kids, including a trans woman, as the Tattoo Artists’ Gallery, located in a garage.
The Tattooing Gallery has been in operation since 2006, but has only been open for a few months.
McElWee said he has seen the gallery get overwhelmed with visitors and that the tattoo industry is facing a “very challenging time.”
“I just don’t know what to tell you,” McAlwee said.
“We’re just trying to find ways to maintain a safe space for our patrons and staff, but we’re also trying to keep our doors open, and we have no intention of shutting down,” McElfwee added.
McElfwe added that he had been told by the Burlington Police Department that Williams had been arrested for using a restroom.
A statement from the Burlington police department said that a female employee was confronted by Williams at a Burlington public restroom and identified herself as “Taya,” who is female and identifies as a female.
The statement said that the female was able to identify Williams’ appearance as female and was told that Williams was in possession of a receipt, the police report said.
Police said that police were called to the restroom on Feb. 18 and that a male employee “observed the female leave the restroom” and that Williams used a male restroom, the statement said.
The police report does not say what prompted the male to observe the female using the restroom.
McElswee told ABCNews.com that he didn’t know Williams until the incident occurred and that he doesn�t believe he was acting alone.
“He is obviously very well respected in the tattoo world,” McElsweed said.
Williams said in a statement that he has been living as a woman for the last six years and that in his view he has a right to be a woman in public, according his statement.
“At the same time, I do not identify as a man,” Williams said in the statement.