A popular female-only pool in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has copped backlash for banning transgender female patrons unless they’ve “undergone a gender reassignment surgery.”
The McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee had published the rule in an FAQ section of its website. This week, its discovery sparked criticism on social media.
Under a heading “Are transgender women allowed?” the website stated, “Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry.”
A Twitter user shared a screenshot of the rule on Twitter, asking, “I wonder who’s job it is … to check people’s pants to see if they have the ‘correct’ genitals?”
A trans female Sydneysider who frequented the pool was one of many who expressed shock at the rule. She tweeted that seeing the rule “broke her heart”.
“McIvers is an extremely important place to me. I have so many beautiful queer memories associated with it,” she tweeted.
“As a trans woman, it’s one of the first places I felt comfortable about my body in public.
“I’ve never experienced outward transphobia or been hassled about my body/gender at McIver’s, which makes me wonder where this decision has even come from.
“Who was asking for this? Either way it’s now just another place I don’t feel welcome or safe being as a trans person.”
— DrewAnB (@JadedTransWoman) January 11, 2021
Another trans women wrote that McIvers is “literally the only place I’ve gone swimming since transition.”
Others pointed out how difficult the pool’s rule is to enforce. The pool does not permit full nudity.
“The ‘drop your pants so we can check’ policy is breathtakingly offensive, and evidence of extremely outdated, reductive and classist thinking,” one person tweeted.
McIver’s Ladies Baths responds to social media backlash
In response, the McIver’s Baths FAQ was updated to claim the NSW Government had granted an exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act in 1995.
The website said further inquiries should be directed to the local Randwick City Council.
However on Tuesday (January 12), the McIver’s Baths further amended the FAQ section to remove the exemption claim.
Instead, the website notes that transgender women as defined by the NSW Discrimination Act are welcome at the baths.
Pool in Coogee has operated since 1922
The McIver’s Ladies Baths have been in operation since 1922. The website describes the venue as a place of “healing, acceptance, and security” for women and children.
“Protecting this special place for women has been the work of many generations of women,” it reads.
“Today it provides a safe place for women of many ages, religions, and backgrounds.”
A Randwick City Council spokesperson said the Council has “always supported the inclusion of transgender women at McIver’s Ladies Baths.”
“It is our understanding the [Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association] has always had a policy of inclusion,” they said.
“[We] have been in contact with the management of the baths to ask them to more accurately communicate this inclusive position on the issue on their website.”