A traumatized California teenager recently experienced a disturbing and potentially dangerous incident in the locker room of her local YMCA. Rebecca Philips was at the Santee YMCA last month when she spotted a naked transgender woman in the women’s locker room. Although the person identified as a woman, they had a penis between their legs.
In a recent San Diego city council meeting, Rebecca recounted the experience, telling elected officials that she was left “terrified” and “hiding behind their flimsy excuse for a curtain until he was gone.” She spoke out to see if policymakers would change the policy allowing transgender women to use women’s locker rooms and other facilities.
Rebecca explained that her primary concern was her little sister’s exposure to a naked transgender woman. The YMCA was supposed to be her safe haven to gossip with her friends and shower and change.
The YMCA staff, however, reprimanded Rebecca for reporting the transgender woman, telling her that the person had every right to use the women’s locker room since they identified as a woman. In California, individuals are allowed to use facilities that align with their gender identity. The staff then shamed Rebecca for her “transphobic views.”
As a result of the incident, Rebecca is calling for a policy change. She wants the YMCA and policymakers to recognize the potential danger and trauma that transgender women who have not undergone gender confirmation surgery can inflict on young girls and women in locker rooms.
Rebecca’s experience highlights the importance of prioritizing the safety and privacy of all individuals, particularly minors, in locker rooms and other communal spaces. While California law allows transgender individuals to use facilities aligned with their gender identity, it must be balanced with protecting young girls and women’s well-being and safety.
The YMCA said in a statement:
“We are aware of a situation involving two members in the locker room of the Santee YMCA earlier this month. The comfort and safety of all our members are our highest priority. As a community-focused organization, we strive to meet the needs of all individuals. We recognize that birth and gender identity are sensitive subjects. We rely on subject matter experts, laws, and guidelines established by the State of California to ensure our policies are welcoming and respectful for all community members.”
The YMCA must create policies that recognize and respect all individuals’ safety, privacy, and dignity. The safety of children, in particular, should be of paramount concern. YMCA staff should never shame or reprimand someone for reporting a perceived threat, and trans individuals should not be permitted to expose their genitals in women’s locker rooms, endangering women’s and girls’ well-being.
As a community-focused organization, the YMCA should work to meet the needs of all its members, including trans individuals, while ensuring that their policies do not infringe on other members’ rights and safety.
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