Trans women and allies have gathered at the McIver’s Ladies Baths in Sydney to protest a transphobic entry policy that previously appeared on the venue’s website.
The baths recently copped backlash over its policy of only allowing “transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery” into the women’s-only space. Aside from just being weird, policing people’s genitals is an age-old transphobic trope that unfairly brands trans women who, for whatever reason, have not undergone surgery as interlopers or even predators.
At 10 AM on Sunday, people gathered to hear speeches outside the baths before going for a big group swim at the nearby Coogee Beach (due to coronavirus restrictions) in what the organisers described as a “celebration of pride and solidarity and say loud and clear that no woman should be excluded from the baths, just for being transgender.”
At the event it was also reiterated that Randwick Deputy Mayor Philipa Veitch is backing trans women on this issue.
A handful protesters then went into the baths for a dip, and thankfully there were only asked one question upon entry: “Are you a woman?”
While this straightforward condition of entry what people wanted all along, many are now also calling for an apology from the Randwick & Coogee Ladies Swimming Association, which operates baths, for introducing the old policy in the first place.
While the association hasn’t issued a direct statement on the issue, it’s since deleted its anti-trans entry policy from its website, which now reads:
“Transgender women are welcome to the McIver’s Ladies Baths, our definition for transgender is as per the NSW Discrimination Act.”
“In response to recent events, we’ve listened, we hear you!”
“Our aim has been and always will be to support our diverse community.”
However even this updated entry policy based on the NSW Discrimination Act is both vague and rooted in transphobia, according to the protesters.
“The act also states that to be a ‘recognised transgender person’ in NSW requires having a ‘sex affirmation procedure’ under the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act,” the protest’s event description reads.
“The NSW Discrimination Act should be changed to consistently reflect an inclusive definition of transgender.”
Over 12,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for the McIver’s Ladies Baths to adopt an explicitly trans-inclusive entry policy.
Although that hasn’t happened just yet, at least on Sunday, the baths appeared to let all women come in for a swim.