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.