Transgender Fight Moves to Spas
An ugly situation that's getting uglier.
WaPo (“A trans woman undressed in a spa. Customers said they were ‘traumatized,’ and a protest ensued.“):
A famous spa in Los Angeles’s Koreatown became the latest site in the battle over transgender rights last week, drawing attention from conservative commentators nationwide. A week after a customer confronted spa staffers about a transgender woman apparently disrobing in the spa’s women’s section, protests over the situation turned violent.
Those against gender-inclusive public facilities have long cited safety and privacy concerns, saying these accommodations could open the door for predators to enter spaces such as restrooms and changing rooms. A 2018 study from the Williams Institute, a research center focused on sexual-orientation and gender-identity law and public policy, found no link between gender-inclusive policies and safety risks.
The initial confrontation between an upset customer and spa staff happened after a transgender woman reportedly used the side of the spa reserved for women. In one video, a person who identifies herself as the spa’s manager asks whether the transgender woman did anything specifically inappropriate, and an upset customer replies that the person’s genitalia was exposed in the women’s section of the spa.
“She was within the women’s section, which, you know, is exactly where she should be,” said Jae Red Rose, an organizer for San Diego Trans Pride.
The spa’s Facebook page warns that “modesty must be checked at the door, as no clothing is worn in these gender-separated areas.” Two customers said they — and two girls who were present — were “traumatized” after seeing the transgender woman’s genitals.
Women-only spaces should be protected, said Zac Boyer, manager of programs and outreach for the central Ohio-based LGBTQ organization Stonewall Columbus, but that doesn’t mean all women have the same genitals.
“If you don’t want your child to see a variety of bodies, don’t take them to naked spaces,” Boyer said.
Conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong tweeted a thread of videos that contain strong language and feature a customer at Wi Spa repeatedly asking an employee why a “man” was allowed into the women’s section.
A bystander asks the customer whether she’s talking about a transgender person, to which she replies: “There is no such thing as transgender.”
A spa employee defended the transgender woman’s use of the facilities, telling the customer that she could leave if she was uncomfortable.
In a statement, Wi Spa cited a section of California law that makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against transgender and other gender-nonconforming people. The spa said it does not tolerate harassment or lewd conduct from any customers.
“Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” the statement said. “Wi Spa strives to follow the law and meet the needs and safety of all of its customers.”
Protesters who said they were defending women’s and children’s rights rallied against the business’s decision Saturday, but were seemingly outnumbered by dozens of black-clad counterprotesters who attempted to chase them off.
Video shot by a Twitter user who self-identified as an advocacy journalistshows a man wearing an American flag bandanna pulling a gun out of a backpack. When the person filming asks what he grabbed, the man replies: “Something to shoot you with.”
This is going to get far uglier before it gets better.
The overwhelming percentage of the population has genitalia that conforms to their gender identity. And most people would prefer not to be naked in the presence of strangers with different genitalia. There’s a reason, after all, that we gender segregate restrooms, showers, and spas.
At the same time, transgender individuals face an enormous amount of trauma. A transwoman would certainly feel unsafe in a men’s locker room or spa, particularly if she’s partly transitioned.
I honestly don’t know what the answer is here. But telling the overwhelming majority of women that, if they don’t like seeing strange penises at the spa or locker rooms, they should refrain from going out in public is not it.