Transgender Man Sues Over Harassment From Public Pool Staff

460xA transgender man in New York City has accused a public pool of creating problems in the locker room, but he’s fighting back.

According to a lawsuit, a staff member at the pool kicked Bryan Ellicott out of the locker room and told him to use the women’s room at a pool on Staten Island. Since the encounter, Ellicott says, he’s developed an anxiety about locker rooms and will avoid them at all costs.

It’s understandable that some public employees might not fully understand gender identity and transitioning and the trans experience. But this pool employee was apparently charged with examining a patron’s gender to make sure they were in the right area. Surely this job responsibility calls for a little training on how different people identify.

New York still has a ways to go when it comes to protecting LGBTs, and it sounds like the city might have dropped the ball on ensuring that staff were adequately prepared to do their job. All it would have taken was a short explanation: “it is not always possible to correctly identify a person’s gender based on visual inspection. Some patrons may have transitioned from one gender to another, and could be particularly sensitive to being mis-gendered by a stranger. If a person corrects your incorrect assumption, you should apologize and take them at their word. They are more qualified to know their own gender than you are to assign one to them.”

Ta da, done! You’re welcome, New York.

Of course, some cis people might freak out at this: “but I don’t want to change in front of someone who used to be a woman!” Well, it used to be that some people didn’t want to share locker rooms with other races. Times change. Public facilities can’t accommodate everyone’s bigotry.


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  • gskorich

    us cis people as you call us seem to have an issue with a man who has a vagina. I get the whole gender identity thing. what I don’t understand is what makes you a man physically, in trans terms. no tits and a vagina or can we have tits and a vagina and call ourselves a man? how is cis joe on the street suppose to know this trans man is going through this? what they see is a woman trying to change in the mans locker room. public places are not the same as what’s going on inside your head. people are going to have issues. should they be condemned. no!!

  • corvaspikenard

    @gskorich: Before and after transition I got changed facing the wall and no-one ever saw my penis or vagina. I don’t understand what the fuss is about.
    I think we need more information about why this man was kicked out of the locker room; it doesn’t specify what reason the staff member thought they had to kick him out. Was the staff member being an asshole because something tipped him off that this guy was trans? Was the trans guy running around flashing his genitals at people (knowing the anxiety trans people have about genitals, I doubt that).
    The guy has a BEARD, so I think making him change in the women’s locker room would cause far more problems. I don’t think this is an issue of genitals.

  • gskorich

    @corvaspikenard: I agree with you. the media never gives us the full story. it always sounds like this poor trans man was attacked fur being trans. there is more to this story.

  • hex0

    They’re biologically a woman, use the women’s changing room simple. Either take a chill pill and face reality or don’t go to the pool.

    And fuck the “cis” crap, it’s impossible to change your sex.

  • corvaspikenard

    @hex0: Sure, until the women in the women’s changing room start screaming about a bearded man being in there with them. Changing rooms aren’t assigned on the basis of sex, they are assigned on the basis of appearance. If you sent Buck Angel into a women’s changing room, women would freak out.
    Likewise if you sent me into a men’s changing room, they would complain about a woman being in there.

  • Mezaien

    @hex0: Did you got up ass hole this morning? like many other HOMOS on Qweerty.

  • hex0


    It is basic reality my dear, trans feelings end where reality begins. People should be free to express themselves however they want but that doesn’t mean that a man (adult human male) can become a woman or vice versa.

    Here we have a case of a woman taking testosterone, they should be in the women’s or have a separate changing room if requested. Nothing to do with race or sexual orientation, a men’s changing room has no other descriptors other than it should be for men which this person is not. How many feminists are complaining about trans in their spaces (michfest etc.) but gay men always seemed to be dumped with the responsibility of looking after both “mtf”s and “ftm”s.

  • grapeexpectations

    The amount of hate in this comment section is both sad and not needed, please take you’re negative attitudes elsewhere

  • corvaspikenard

    @hex0: If this guy is legally male on his documentation, then he is legally entitled to use the male facilities. Sorry. That’s ‘reality’.

  • topshelf

    The reality is, she’s not a convincing man yet. Maybe when the process is further along, she’ll be better able to be among men in the locker room without having any issues because no one will know the difference. Right now, it appears that she’s midway through the process and doesn’t have a place on either the male or female side of the locker rooms.

    I am continuing to be frustrated with the lesbian and gay community having the “T” tacked onto everything we do. It’s Gay and Lesbian. Don’t try to add in Transgendered, Transsexual or any other sub-group that has sexual identity issues. Gay men are men and lesbians are women, not a surgically modified caricature of one or the other. Transgendered individuals need to fight this fight without piggybacking on the progress that gay and lesbian groups have achieved.

  • corvaspikenard

    @topshelf: He is a man, not ‘she’.
    Please respect how someone identifies even if you don’t agree with it. At last estimate, 44% of *living* transgender people have attempted suicide, so we don’t need any additional nonsense to deal with from people who should know better about behaving in discriminatory and aggravating ways.

    Lots of trans people are especially vulnerable and can’t even use a bathroom without harassment – something most non-trans people take for granted.
    Again, they don’t need any additional crap from people being willfully cruel about their identities.

    Your comment about “surgically modified caricatures” is disgraceful and has no place in an inclusive society. Please go back to the dark ages where you belong.
    FYI, all the trans rights in my country were won by trans people alone – and despite this we still back the LGB on their issues (marriage equality) even though their help has historically been virtually nonexistent.

    I’ll always support your rights, even if you don’t give a f**k about mine :-)

  • Will L

    @grapeexpectations: Bite it, sweetheart. You seem to think that a blog is only for encouraging little snippits. Wrong.

    Until he has surgery, he is female. If he chooses to use the men’s dressing room, fine. But he needs to discreetly do so and keep the vagina to himself. If he feels he is a man, I will extend the courtesy of using male pronouns but (as mentioned above) the reality is…

    And regarding sharing locker rooms with other races, this is hardly a good comparison. Not wanting to share a locker room with another race was NOT done out of modesty.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Will L: I imagine he is very good at keeping his private parts private, most trans people are in public changing facilities – hell, most people are in general!
    I imagine the issue wasn’t about anyone seeing his genitals, rather the staff at the pool just being assholes to him.

    Still, I’m not sure what the issue is here.
    Whenever the issue of trans women in the female facilities is raised, the spectre of sexual assault and the safety of cis women is cited.
    What’s the issue here? Are men worried they’ll get turned on by a trans man and try to sexually assault him, putting him at risk?

    Modesty is never an issue raised when it’s about trans women. I find you raising it in this context to be disingenuous, to say the least. There are plenty of guys with moobs and micropenis around who we don’t kick out of men’s changing rooms. They are anatomically almost the same as a trans man on T (which this guy is clearly on).

  • topshelf

    Well of course you’ll support gay rights. Because that suits you as well. It moves you incrementally closer to the rights that you hope to achieve for yourself. And I have no issue with that either.

    I don’t entirely agree with what you say his gender identity is. But I take no issue in respecting the position that he is a “he.” But surely you understand the confusion that people have with this, yes? The confusion is entirely self created. It is the basis for this entire lawsuit. A suit that I suspect he may lose unless he has completed his procedure and has legally been identified as a man.

    I wrote this long tit-for-tat response that I ended up mostly deleting because none of it matters. I support equal rights for people to do anything that they want to do. However, what the transgender community is seeking to achieve is far beyond, and not necessary in alignment with what gays and lesbians are seeking to achieve.

  • corvaspikenard

    @topshelf: “Well of course you’ll support gay rights. Because that suits you as well. It moves you incrementally closer to the rights that you hope to achieve for yourself. And I have no issue with that either.”

    I’m straight, so if I didn’t support gay rights it wouldn’t change anything. I’ve affected one law change in my country with the assistance of a straight lawyer and it had nothing to do with gays.
    I can, and will, get my rights all by myself. What the GLB does won’t affect that in the slightest.
    I’m interested in gay rights because I’m a decent person, nothing more.

    How can you not agree with his gender identity? It’s his. You can’t dispute it without BEING him.
    I imagine he will win, because there are plenty of precedents for this and most of the time trans people win.

    And yes, I agree that what trans people want is different to what the GLB want. You already have 99% of your rights. We can’t even f**cking pee or poop without being harassed!

  • topshelf

    I’m not familiar with your situation, so I’m not going to attempt to address it. I don’t agree that you can legitimately call yourself a man or a woman if it isn’t true. Saying it doesn’t make it true, nor do the procedures or hormones. I will never be a six foot tall Italian soccer player. No matter how many surgeries I have or soccer coaching I receive, it’s not achievable because I am not Italian. Maybe that’s not the perfect analogy, but you get my point. I don’t expect you to agree. Regardless, people will address anyone as whatever gender they want out of politeness. Hopefully that’ll be good enough until perception changes.

    I’m not sure where you are getting your 99% information. But that’s not at all accurate.

  • corvaspikenard

    @topshelf: “Saying it doesn’t make it true, nor do the procedures or hormones.”

    Phenotypically and legally I am female. That’s all that matters to anyone I meet or deal with in day-to-day life. We based our assessments of sex on secondary sexual characteristics and documentation. Both of these point to me being female.

    From a scientific perspective, ‘male’ means ‘produces small gametes’ and ‘female’ means ‘produces large gametes’.
    Since I produce neither, my scientific sex is ‘neuter’ and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Plenty of cis people who can’t reproduce fall into this category as well.

    Your “six foot tall Italian soccer player” analogy is false because MRI scans on trans people have been shown to have the brain sex of their preferred gender.
    It is also false because we have a roughly 50/50 chance of being born male or female, but if our parents are both Asian, we have a 0% chance of being born Italian.

    So no, I don’t get your point. The leading medical and psychological establishments don’t agree with your stance on trans people, but if you have credentials that trump theirs, please show them and I’ll consider revising my opinion.

  • Tackle

    To the above posters who are frustrated and complaining about the T being tacked on to LGB, or who would prefer it to just be gay and lesbian, you are going to be frustrated & complaining for a long time to come. And understand something, you are of the fringe element of the LGBTQ community. You are in the minority. The only people who think like you are a small group of mostly gay men. And
    if a vote was taken among LGBQ people about whether the T should stay or go, I bet overwhelmingly the vote would be for the T to stay. And this is the US. What’s stopping you gay men who are so frustrated about the T being there from starting your own group? And what have you “really” done to advance the rights of gays & lesbians?

  • hex0



    This isn’t true, gay men are actually the most sympathetic group to “transgenders” (due to our historical link with drag queens who transitioned to “straight women”). Of the gay men surveyed only 52% said they shared anything in common with transsexuals, of lesbians, only 47% and for bisexuals the figures are even lower. Get the T out of the LGB! Thinking you’re the opposite sex and butchering your body is so different to loving the same sex, you’d have to be a homophobe to think otherwise…

  • Tackle

    @hex0: You are reacting to, as opposed to reading carefully what I wrote. Yes gay men are the most sympathetic to transgenders. That’s why I singled out and wrote that those who opposed, or wanted the T out are of the fringed and a minority. And no one is butchering their bodies. They are modifying and making corrections. And the posted link has nothing to do with what I’m talking about. But yet it does support what I’m saying.
    In the middle it says” Gay people have no interest in supporting genderism”. And I say because gay people do not fully understand it. However, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the need and wants of a FEW gay men to remove the T. Which most LGB people ( I believe) will never go for. Transgender issues or. concerns among LGBTQ is a different subject matter.

  • tdx3fan

    @Tackle: I wonder if we did such a study what the results would say. Until we do, you cannot argue either way, but since the trans community has been attacking the gay community at every opportunity for years now I am betting support of them has shrunk. The belief that LGBT is a big happy family is idiotic. There is much more infighting than cohesion, but that is because in a world where you push individualism you are much more likely to form an identity based on differences instead of similarities.

  • DarkZephyr

    I’m appalled at the rampant transphobia that I’m seeing here.
    @corvaspikenard: I have disagreed with you here at queerty in the past but I have GOT to tell you that I think your patience here is nothing short of heroic. Wow, you are remaining calm and polite in the face of monstrous hate from several gay men and I am very impressed by that. I am exceedingly embarrassed by the way @hex0: @topshelf: @Will L: and @gskorich: are behaving. I hope you know that you do have gay brothers in the LGBT family who DO love and support you.
    As for the transphobic gay men commenting, dear God what crawled up your noses and died? What’s with you guys? Why is it SO fundamentally important for you to tell someone that the gender they identify as is not really their gender? And for those of you who are defending the ones who kicked him out of the locker room, SERIOUSLY? Are we really going to behave that way when we still have to deal with bigots who don’t want to have to change in front of “f**gs”? I’m very disgusted with what I have read here this morning. I am always telling homophobes that the as on the WRONG side of history. It’s vey disappointing to me that I have to say the same thing to gay brothers. I promise you that you ARE on the wrong side of history every bit as much as homophobes are. History will NOT look kindly at the things you have said here about our trans* siblings. In this situation you guys are the villains. There is NO good reason that any of us should be marginalizing our trans* brothers and sisters when we know full well eta it’s like to be marginalized ourselves. Please just stop it!
    And to you @corvaspikenard: THANK you for your continued support of your gay brothers even though you don’t HAVE to support is and even though we don’t always deserve your support or loyalty. I am very grateful.

  • Tackle

    @tdx3fan: I like what you wrote, and you bring up some good points. But let me make some corrections. These is a perception that the trans community has been attacking us for yrs. It is not the trans community, but a small fringe faction of that community that has been at odds with gay men, and who are causing the most trouble. They do not speak for most trans people. They’re out for themselves, and their own damn agenda. Causing much resentment and ddissension along the way. Yes support has shrunk. But not to the point where most LGQ want to get rid of the T. You cannot paint everyone with the same brush.

  • topshelf


    Thank you for illustrating your personal situation. Your neuter classification was not something that I was not addressing when arguing my position. I was discussing gender reassignment, which is not your situation at all. I certainly don’t want to appear to be an obstacle in any way with someone who has struggled with sexual organs that haven’t fully formed, or contribute those struggles. I believe that the above instance is about someone who is midway through the gender transitioning process and the confusion that occurred as a result.

    If anything, this is precisely why I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume T belongs alongside L and G. Gay and Lesbian rights are what I’ve been fighting for for decades. It is personal to me and many gay men and lesbian women. It appears that our efforts are being co-opted with other causes being tacked-on. Now it’s LGBTQIA, which is becoming utterly ridiculous. Someone made a joke that next week will there be an “S” for “Siamese.” The lack of focus obscures the message.

    What you have illustrated is that transgender rights are important, but it is not the same fight as gays and lesbians. And to suggest that there is an automatic relationship by attaching a “T” isn’t exactly accurate or helpful for anyone.

  • Kieran

    When are we going to add an “H” to include the oppressed hermaphrodite community?

  • JimboinLA

    There is no such thing as gender reassignment. It is a myth created by the medical profession to capitalize. In truth trans-woman are just castrated mutilated males. And trans-men are the same. Sorry to burst everyones bubble. I completely understand why straight men don’t want to look at her medically created penis. Because it’s not a penis. It’s a mutilation. If it makes a person feel better to be so mutilated have at it. But don’t expect people to treat you like you are not a mutation.

  • Tackle

    I cannot believe the amount of transphobia that some gay men have. Thak god they’re in the minority.

  • Teeth

    I want to know how he feels about the T-word before I decide if I care about him.

  • gskorich

    @DarkZephyr: i don’t need you or anyone to comment about how i am behaving, we are all adults here. you yourself have to admit the issue of gender is a little confusing for some people. we have chaz bono running around calling himself a heterosexual man even though he has a vagina. he might identify as a man but having a vagina signifies being female. its confusing to most of us. now this FTM shows up in the locker room with facial hair, what else does he have to signify he is a man? did he have full surgery or just have his tits removed? the average person does not know what is going on in the persons life in the next locker. why is it the rest of the world needs to bow to the transgender gods?

  • DarkZephyr

    @Kieran: you mean “I” for “intersexed” (hermaphrodite is not the appropriate term) and some acronyms of our community do contain the “I”. LGBTQI.

  • corvaspikenard

    @DarkZephyr: Thank you for your support and kind words. The transgender community is tiny, as far as minorities go, so we appreciate any support, regardless of whether our issues coincide with yours.
    I think that’s the point here; all oppressed people have something in common: they are oppressed.

    To Topshelf and those advocating cutting trans people out of the GSM (gender and sexual minorities) umbrella:
    You can either choose to be an oppressor, aid the oppressor by ignoring discrimination or stand in unity with other oppressed people.

    When I have attended ‘Take Back the Night’ marches and marches for marriage equality, there have been people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, a multitude of races and ethnicities. I’ve rubbed shoulders with Christians, Buddhists and Muslims who were there for the same reason – to fight back against the oppression of minorities.

    I really can’t understand why you’d want to drop the T from LGBT. To me that just seems like you’re saying “I can’t be bothered about your issues because I can’t be bothered understanding you.”
    Why would you not want to help a group in need of help? That just seems alien to me, but perhaps that’s a difference between us I can’t comprehend.

    But again, I will support your rights and fight discrimination against the LGB because it is right to fight it.
    I don’t need to feel like we need to have exactly the same issues to recognise that discrimination against the LGB is wrong.

    I hope one day you feel the same way :-)

  • corvaspikenard

    @JimboinLA: With the existing medical advances (uterus transplants, lab grown vaginas) and the coming advances in stem cell medicine and gene therapy, full-body transitions should hopefully be available in the next 15-20 years.
    That means that the person’s body will be 100% XX or XY and have the functioning organs of that chromosome configuration.

    What then? Where will you shift the goalposts then?
    People used to say “You’re not a woman until you have a vagina” so trans women got surgery to have vaginas. Then we were told “You’re not a woman until you can make babies” and now that is also possible.

    So what are you going to say when people can transition hormonally, physically, reproductively and chromosomally? Because it will happen.

    I also don’t think that surgically created genitals are any less valid.
    Plenty of cis people end up in accidents that damage their genitals and need reconstructive surgery.
    Plenty of children are born with intersex genitalia or other genital issues who later want them corrected with surgery.

  • James Hart

    He should sue! Every American, because of their citizenship, has a right NOT to be harassed, especially in a publicly supported venue. Every true American should be supporting this guy.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @corvaspikenard: Where is the Queerty censors to stop that word cis, it’s offensive term that no one straight, gay asked to be thrust upon.

  • JimboinLA

    @corvaspikenard: Yes. When trans woman can give birth and when trans men can produce sperm I will happily shift the goalposts. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Nowuvedoneit: I’m not Queerty staff, so you’ll need to direct the question to them.
    Would you prefer if I used ‘nontrans’ instead?

  • corvaspikenard

    @JimboinLA: Good news then! Scientists have discovered the gene deletion that turns ovaries into testes.
    Also, sperm can be made from human stem cells.

    However I’m confused as to why gay people would care about reproduction in this context, since same-sex intercourse doesn’t involve reproduction.
    That seems just a little disengenuous to me :-)

  • gskorich

    @corvaspikenard: really, when lesbians can call themselves straight men they will need the sperm to back it up.

  • Mezaien

    @hex0: Ein schwul immer schwul!.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @corvaspikenard: I know silly you aren’t Queerty staff. :-) I don’t care for cis it’s to close to cyst but if you want to call me just say he, you, or if I knew you better my given name. I’m not a label and don’t wish to be labeled as such. The other people I can’t say if they do or don’t like being labeled cis, I haven’t asked them, but it’s folly to assume they do.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Nowuvedoneit: It’s difficult to talk about a group of people without giving identifiers for that group of people. If I want to talk about non-trans people, then I’ve already labelled them by calling them ‘non-trans’.
    Saying the given names of every non-trans person would be awfully time consuming and there would be no time left for conversation :-)

  • tricky ricky

    once again it is proven that gay has not one damn thing to do with transgender. gays need to sever them. we do not have the same issues.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @corvaspikenard: I know, but my point was that it can be considered rude or impolite at best to label a whole group without the benefit of having asked them. Transgender was coined to refer because they wanted and identity. Before everyone that was just thought of as transvestite. As it has been referred to by several commenters “binary” people chose not to or wanted to be labeled as such. It’s a hard concept but 90 to 95% of the worlds population is not transgender or gay. It’s also not an identity issue, they are if need be called heterosexual for the act if sleeping with the opposite sex, just I am a homosexual for sleeping with the same sex. I guess that’s the label if you must have an overwhelming need to do as such, a homosexual is what I can agree to. But I am also a brother,husband, cousin , jerk, and a great many other things that don’t need to or get addressed.

  • DarkZephyr

    And so it continues. Gay men behaving in exactly the same kind of manner as homophobes. Isn’t that special?

    @corvaspikenard: I agree. Oppressed people should stick together. There is Trent’s in numbers. Apparently some of the gay men commenting here who want to “drop the T” think we can afford to reject and expell allies. I continue to be gobsmacked by this behavior.

  • DarkZephyr

    @DarkZephyr: And that would be “strength” in numbers. Not Trent. Autocorrect is making me sound idiotic.

  • JimboinLA

    @corvaspikenard: It’s not about reproducing, it’s about functioning sexually. Many trans people can’t achieve the same level of sexual satisfaction after the surgery……so I’ve heard……first hand.

  • corvaspikenard

    @JimboinLA: Depends on who your surgeon is. My orgasms went from meh to mindblowing :-)

  • ait10101

    I am flabbergasted that some people really care how he defines himself, and want to second guess him. But I am a patron of nude beaches (wrote most of my PhD dissertation on one) so maybe I am the weird one. It’s a good weird, though, I think.

  • Clark35

    @gskorich: Very true, Trans people use “cis” as a slur towards people who are not trans, and then you have trans people who get very angry when you don’t recognize them as being trans, and these people think they’ve always been “cis”.

    @JimboinLA: Very true. Trans “men” don’t have penises.

Comments are closed.