Sydney women’s pool members dump management after trans controversy


mcivers ladies baths transgender discrimination
Photo: Randwick City Council

The managing committee of the McIvers Ladies Baths in Sydney has been ousted by members in the wake of the pool’s recent transphobia controversy.

McIver’s Ladies’ Baths in Coogee came under fire in January after announcing only trans women who had undergone surgery could use the ocean pool, devastating some frequent trans patrons.

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The heritage-listed pool’s management later walked back the rules after a backlash from the local community.

Now at a special meeting of the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Club, which manages the baths, more than 50 members voted to remove the current management, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The members also elected a new interim president and managing committee to run the venue.

“There had been an authoritarian running of the pool of late, with lots of restrictions and a loss of the welcoming, leisurely atmosphere and spirit the place once had,” interim president-elect Tracy Grujovic told the Herald.

“We want to give the pool back to the community… it had lost its soul and ethos under this management.”

Secretary-elect Colleen Kelly, a longtime volunteer at the pool, also took aim at the recent introduction of “unnecessary rules and regulations” and paid staff.

“This pool has survived on the sweat of volunteer women’s backs since 1922,” said Kelly.

“This is the only pool of its kind in Australia that’s a safe space that welcomes all women. Migrant women, those with disabilities, women who don’t want to show their bodies publicly.

“We have always accommodated all types of women, including trans women for many years, with no one saying anything until we had a more aggressive response from the current management.”

McIver’s Ladies Baths established in 1922

The McIver’s Ladies Baths have been in operation since 1922. The Baths will this week close for three months of renovations and repairs.

The Baths’ website describes it 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.

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“Today it provides a safe place for women of many ages, religions, and backgrounds.”

In January, the McIvers Ladies Baths copped backlash after declaring transgender female patrons could only swim after they’ve “undergone a gender reassignment surgery.”

After the backlash, management updated its website to permit trans women “as defined in the NSW Discrimination Act”.

Many pointed out the difficulty in enforcing the rule as the pool does not permit full nudity.

One person asked on Twitter, “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 said 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.”

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