A Washington state YMCA has made national headlines following a gender identification dispute outside the facility’s swimming pool.
Following her July 26 clash with a teenage pool employee who is a transgender woman, 80-year-old Julie Jaman has been permanently banned from the YMCA-run Mountain View Pool in Port Townsend, Washington.
Jaman says she saw the employee, whom she refers to as a man, watching young girls using the toilet. But the YMCA pool management says the employee was following protocol in accompanying children to the bathroom.
Jaman, who has been a member of the Mountain View facility for 35 years, said she had just finished her swim and was taking a shower in the locker room when she heard a voice that she said did not belong in that setting.
“I heard a man’s voice, very distinctive,' Jaman said. 'I saw a man in a woman’s bathing suit where two toilets are, and there were two little girls standing there taking down their suits to use the toilet. I looked at him and I said, 'Do you have a penis?' And he said, ‘It’s none of your business.’ And I said, ‘You need to leave now.’' YMCA management got involved and stated that Jaman had made “disrespectful” statements to the employee and asked her to leave. According to reports, she refused to leave, and the police were called.
The YMCA then permanently banned her from the facility, and Jaman returned on the following days to stand at the entrance carrying a sign reading: “Men who identify as women are using the women’s shower / dressing room.”
According to Erin Hawkins, the marketing and communications manager for the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, the permanent ban was not the result of a single incident in the women’s locker room, but rather followed a series of incidents that violated the facility’s code of conduct.
Hawkins said that employees at the facility began receiving abusive phone calls and emails, mostly from people outside the county, who believe the claim that Jaman “had confronted a man in the woman’s shower area.”
The barrage of communications prompted YMCA management to close the facility for the week until they could determine that there could be “a harassment-free environment for both staff and patrons,” the city stated.
On August 1, there was a heated city council meeting, which spent more than 30 minutes of public debate on the matter. The arguments boiled down to transgender rights versus women’s right to privacy.
Port Townsend resident Rebecca Horst said, “This individual is not a man identifying as a woman. This individual is a woman. I think that we need to have respect and inclusivity, and we need to respect this person. It is inappropriate for people in this day and age not to recognize what transgender means.'
Zachariah Parker, who also lives in Port Townsend, said, “Quite frankly, I find this type of bigotry horrible, and I’m not shocked. I’m here to stand up for trans people, to defend their rights, and I’m here to encourage you all to listen to them and believe them when they tell you who they are.'
City Resident Allison Hedlund said, “There is absolutely no privacy in the Y’s women’s locker room, which means we are vulnerable. I haven’t been there in years because of the lack of privacy.'
Jaman also spoke. “We have all worked hard to get the kind of equality and inclusiveness that is so needed, including for trans people,” she said. “Everybody — I’m with the program, except in the shower.'
Jaman said she would like to see a separate shower for people who are uncomfortable with all-gender facilities.
On August 5, Jaman gave an interview about her confrontation at the YMCA to the Seattle Washington radio host Dori Monson, which ignited a nationwide controversy. Throughout the interview, Jaman referred to the YMCA employee, Clementine Adams, as a man.
Jaman told Monson that following the incident, she spoke with Olympic Peninsula YMCA CEO Wendy Bart.
“I told her there were no signs posted to give women warning,” Jaman said. “She said there were Pride posters posted all over, and she assumed that was adequate to inform women what to expect.” According to Jaman, Bart also said, ‘We take pride and everyone is welcome.’ “That’s fine with me, except that they do not provide alternatives for women who choose not to be undressing in front of men,” Jaman said. “Our pool is a very old pool. We just have two shower rooms, dressing rooms, one for men, one for women.”
Jaman told Monson that she was “very distressed” about being called a “bigot” and about being banned from swimming at the facility.
On August 15, Jaman attempted to give a statement at a rally where she was yelled at by protestors.
She began her speech by describing herself as the “naked old lady in the women’s shower room” and said that she objects to “men that identify as women undressing and showering with female humans.”
Protesters began shouting over her prepared statement “Trans rights are human rights.”
One of the protestors tore down the suffragette flags standing behind her. In a cell phone video recording of the scene, Jaman can be heard saying, “Are we going to get beat up here?” and asking for someone to “call the police, please.”
The YMCA has since put out an official statement regarding the Mountain View Pool to provide “clarification” about its views on the incident.
The statement says in part: On July 26, one of our YMCA day camp staff members accompanied 2 girls to the restroom facilities in the women’s locker room in a supervision role. At the Y, we have a “rule of 3” where staff always accompany children in a group of 3 so a staff person is never alone with a child and children are never alone with each other. The Y staff member and one girl were standing outside the restroom stall while the other girl was using the restroom when the patron expressed her concerns in a disrespectful manner toward the staff person, which violates the Y’s Code of Conduct.
The Y operates in accordance with state law that gives people the right to access the locker rooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms that aligns with their gender identity, per WAC 162-32-060.
The law states, “entities shall allow individuals the use of gendersegregated facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and homeless or emergency shelters, that are consistent with that individual's gender expression or gender identity.”