A man tried to change clothes in the women’s locker room – twice – at a Seattle swimming pool, and protested that what he was doing was perfectly legal because he is transgender, KREM (Spokane) is reporting.
The incident happened last week, but is only now gaining attention in the media.
Last Monday during afternoon lap swim, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation employees, a man wearing men’s swimming trunks walked into the women’s locker room and took off his shirt.
When other swimmers complained, pool staff asked the man to leave. He refused, saying that it’s legal for him to use whichever locker room he chooses because he’s transgender.
The law that the swimmer appears to be referring to is a controversial Washington (state) law that went into effect in late December of last year. According to The Seattle Times, Washington has, since 2006, prohibited discrimination based on gender identity. The law didn’t specifically address transgender bathroom and locker room use, however; the Washington Human Rights Commission merely clarified that position in new rules that took effect in December 2015.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the new rules were quickly met with heated opposition from some who believed that the rules would open the door to perverts taking advantage of the rules to catch a peek. Republican state Senator Doug Ericksen promised to write a law that will ensure that, as he put it, “The boys will use the boys’ locker room and the girls will use the girls’ locker room.”
Back at the Seattle pool, however, discussions of law and transgender rights took a back seat to outrage and disgust. Fellow pool user MaryAnne Sato said she couldn’t wrap her head around why anyone would want to do such a thing.
“Really bizarre. I can’t imagine why they would want to do that anyway!”
The man also returned to the women’s locker room later in the day – at a time when there were young girls in the locker room getting ready for swimming practice.
Other swimmers noted that the man appeared to be making absolutely no attempt to in any way to present as female.
As of this writing, the man has not been arrested or charged with any crimes.
Swimmer Aldan Shank believes the man’s use of the women’s locker room may be some sort of protest against the rules allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. If so, says Shank, it’s not working.
“Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, the man’s actions put Seattle Parks and Recreation employees in an awkward position. Seattle Parks spokesman David Takami says that his employees don’t have a specific set of requirements for determining the gender identity of a person using a bathroom or locker room. Instead, they rely on verbal and physical cues, such as clothing.
“This didn’t seem like a transgender issue to staff – someone who was “identifying” as a woman. We have guidelines that allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our facilities.”
Do you believe Seattle Parks and Recreation should allow biological males to use women’s locker rooms if they say they’re transgender? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/Guryanov Andrey]