- The Washington Times
Wednesday, August 17, 2022

An 80-year-old woman has touched off an uproar over transgender rights versus female privacy after being banned from a YMCA pool for objecting to a biological male in the women’s shower room.

Julie Jaman of Port Townsend, Washington, became a heroine of the single-sex backlash after she was kicked out of the YMCA’s Mountain View Pool last month for confronting a transgender employee overseeing girls from the day camp during a bathroom break.

“My experience while showering after my swim was hearing a man’s voice in the women’s dressing area and seeing a man in a women’s swimsuit watching little girls pull down their bathing suits in order to use the toilets in the dressing room,” said Ms. Jaman at the Aug. 1 city council meeting. 

Shesaid in an interview with KIRO-FM host Dori Monson that she asked “if he had a penis, and he said it was none of my business. I told that man to ‘get out right now.’”

Instead, Ms. Jaman was told to leave and barred from the YMCA over her “disrespectful behavior.” 

But that wasn’t the end of it.

At a Monday press conference called #LetJulieSwim, Ms. Jaman and other speakers were swarmed by a rowdy crowd of about 200 protesters who disrupted the event by shouting “transwomen are women” and grabbing at the equipment and banners, despite a police presence.

“In the shower room known for 60 years as female-only, one will now encounter men who identify as women undressing and showering with female humans. I object,” said Ms. Jaman at the event hosted by the feminist group RevFOXXUSA. “I don’t want to be forced to shower and dress with the opposite sex present.”

Ms. Jaman filed a police report afterward alleging that she was shoved, hit in the back, and suffered a sprained ankle during the melee, according to the Port Townsend Free Press, an advocacy page on Facebook.

The episode drew national coverage and placed Port Townsend, a burg of about 10,000 located on the Olympic Peninsula, at the heart of the debate over whether protecting men who identify as women from discrimination means obliterating female-only categories and facilities.

City officials have lined up behind the transgender-rights movement. The city council passed a proclamation Monday affirming “Port Townsend as a welcoming community and supporting our transgender community.”

Mayor David J. Faber tweeted afterward that residents “showed up in huge and beautiful fashion to say that hate has no place here.”

“Trans and cis-allies alike spoke love & support, and the only TERF speaker was from out of town. Tonight reminded me why Port Townsend is home,” he said.

A few days before the meeting, Mr. Faber took a swipe at TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists — a label the trans community and its supporters routinely apply to women who oppose their movement.

“I’ll probably get assassinated on Monday evening by a TERF or a moral-panic-stricken right-wing nutjob, so none of the above,’” he joked in an Aug. 12 tweet in response to an online poll asking how long he expected to live.

In an Aug. 11 fact sheet, the city pointed to a state law that “gives people the right to access the locker rooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms that aligns with their gender identity.”

“In addition, the Code of Conduct states that the YMCA will not tolerate disrespectful words or gestures towards YMCA staff or others,” said the city. “Both of these codes were violated by the patron on July 26th. When the conversations between the patron and staff continued to escalate, the YMCA Aquatics Manager told the patron that she was revoking the patron’s access.”

The YMCA, which operates the pool on the city’s behalf, said that Ms. Jaman was permanently suspended based on “several incidents where she has repeatedly violated the Y’s Code of Conduct.”

The employee was a 19-year-old who “had only begun to transition weeks prior to self-identifying into the women’s locker room,” according to the feminist news-and-opinion site Reduxx, but the city said there was “no inappropriate conduct by the YMCA employee.”

“The YMCA employee was performing duties and accompanying day-camp children in the restroom in accordance with YMCA ‘rule of 3’ protocol,” said the fact sheet, meaning that staff and children are never in groups of fewer than three.

Ms. Jaman, who said she has been swimming at the Mountain View pool for 35 years, said she wants the YMCA to provide a locker room “for women and children who do not want to mix it up for their own dignity and well-being.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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