When a transgender woman appeared nude in a women’s clothing-optional area at a Los Angeles spa, it led to dueling protests, but now there’s also been a strong endorsement of trans rights by the Los Angeles Times, the city’s largest daily newspaper.
The protests took place Saturday at Wi Spa in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood. They were sparked by an Instagram video posted by a fellow spa customer regarding the incident, which occurred the preceding weekend, the Times reports.
The customer, a woman using the screen name Cubana Angel, can be seen in the video complaining about the trans woman, referring to her as a man, and saying women and girls in the area were offended by the sight of the trans woman’s genitals. Cubana Angel is upset that spa personnel supported the trans woman, and she says, “There ain’t no such thing as transgender.”
The protests drew both trans-supportive and anti-trans demonstrators, and there was some physical violence, resulting in injuries to five people, local TV station KTLA reports. Police declared an unlawful assembly and forced the protesters to disperse, and no arrests were made, although there is an ongoing investigation, according to the station.
Wi Spa released a statement defending its policy, saying, “Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa. Wi Spa strives to meet the needs and safety of all of its customers, and does not tolerate harassment or lewd conduct by any customer, regardless of their sex, gender, or other characteristic.” It also pointed out that California law bans discrimination against trans and gender-nonconforming people.
While some conservative commentators pointed to the trans woman’s nudity as an example of trans inclusion going “too far,” the Times struck an inclusive note in an editorial published Tuesday.
“There is no doubt that Wi Spa did the right thing in defending the right of a transgender customer to be nude in the women’s area, even though the sight of male-appearing genitalia discomfited at least one female customer, who complained at the front desk,” the editorial says. “As a public-serving business, Wi Spa had to follow California law forbidding discrimination against transgender people.”
“That doesn’t make everyone who feels uncomfortable in such scenarios a bigot,” the editorial continues, noting that the situation might be intimidating to survivors of sexual assault or people with conservative religious beliefs.
“But no one has an absolute right to feel comfortable all the time,” the piece goes on. “People have a right to use the spa, but that doesn’t include with it a guarantee that they all will feel at ease with everything they see. They might prefer a spa where a certain amount of body covering is required.”
The Times predicts that the issue will likely go away over time, as “young people are far more comfortable with the idea of shared spaces for people of all gender identities and sexes,” and “future U.S. Supreme Court rulings might well grant faith-based groups the right to set up spas and other accommodations that are in keeping with their beliefs.”
“In the meantime, customers of public-serving businesses should be prepared to share space with the public, in all our forms, varieties and customs,” the editorial concludes. “Anti-discrimination laws stand for the principle that all are welcome, whether we are comfortable or not.”