Some of Tāmaki Makaurau-Auckland's queer community have staged a protest outside two of the city's best-known gay bars.
The owners say the protesters' claims relating to deadnaming are wrong and the venues are open to all.
Hundreds protested outside the Family and G.A.Y bars on Karangahape Road Saturday night, accusing its management of transphobic behaviour, which the owners deny.
Auckland Pride director Max Tweedie said owners Wayne Clark and Grady Elliott had mocked a transgender employee who was working as a bar staff of G.A.Y.
"Stories have been coming out over the past couple of weeks from trans and nonbinary staff that the owners have been using their deadnames - or the name they were given at birth.
"That's disrespecting their trans and nonbinary identities, which can be incredibly unsafe and harmful," Tweedie said.
Great turnout last night at the protest for safe and inclusive queer spaces, and against Family and G.A.Y. Trans lives matter. pic.twitter.com/c09Ui68jjP— Christian Rika ⚡ (@CrikaRika) May 1, 2021
Elliot denied those claims and said there was no transphobia.
The issue was an internal employee matter about tax details and the community had blown it out of proportion, he said.
"As far as we are concerned, we bought the place for everybody, all the gay community and nothing has changed. It's still a safe space. We're just scratching our heads asking what have we done wrong?" Elliot said.
The issue stemmed from IRD documents that had the employee's former name, which was later corrected when they realised the employee changed names, he said.
"So really, it's an internal thing, it's not a community thing. And they should all just keep their noses out," he said.
Tweedie said it was disappointing some members of the trans community no longer felt safe inside one of the cornerstones of the queer nightlife.
"These spaces are still incredibly important to us for coming together as a community, for gathering, sharing experiences, having fun and being ourselves and getting to throw away the worries that come with being queer and trans in 2021," he said.
There were a number of negative impacts on the Rainbow community when spaces that were once accepting did not feel welcoming anymore, he said.
"Fewer people come out and explore who they are or connect with their communities and feel a sense of safety and normality around their identities in a sometimes unkind world."