An iconic Sydney pool has been forced to change its policy after suffering public backlash over an outdated ‘rule’ regarding transgender visitors.
Coogee’s McIver's Ladies Baths is the southern hemisphere’s only outdoor ocean swimming pool which is exclusively reserved for women, its website says.
However, screenshots of the website which circulated on social media on Monday suggested the baths were not welcoming of all women.
“Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry,” it previously said under McIver's FAQ regarding whether transgender women are allowed to use the facilities.
“I wonder whose job it is at McIver's Ladies Baths in Coogee, to check people's pants to see if they have the ‘correct’ genitals?” one woman asked on Twitter.
Since then, it appears the website has been updated twice.
McIver’s Ladies Baths then stated on its website it had an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act and that “only women and children (boys up to 13 years of age) are permitted entry.
— DrewAnB (@JadedTransWoman) January 11, 2021
The page also suggested people contact Randwick City Council with inquiries.
One trans woman said on Twitter on Monday the McIver’s Ladies Baths was once a safe place for them.
She added she had never experienced outward transphobia while using the pool, or been hassled, which led her to question where the decision came from.
“Who was asking for this?” she asked on Twitter.
“Either way it’s now just another place I don’t feel welcome or safe being as a trans person.”
Looks like they've now edited it... pic.twitter.com/d1tO3iXK1c
— ArtifexH ☕🏳️⚧️ (@ArtifexH) January 11, 2021
Now, the page has been updated to say transgender women are allowed.
“Transgender women are welcome to the McIver’s Ladies Baths, our definition for transgender is as per the NSW Discrimination Act,” the page now says.
As per the NSW Anti Discrimination Act, a transgender person is defined as someone:
who identified as a member of the opposite sex by living, or seeking to live, as a member of the opposite sex, or
who has identified as a member of the opposite sex by living as a member of the opposite sex, or
who being of indeterminate sex, identifies as a member of a particular sex by living as a member of that sex and includes a reference to the person being thought of as a transgender person, whether the person is or was, in fact, a transgender person.
Several people also left negative reviews on the Trip Advisor page.
“Not only has Randwick council targeted the trans community in their new conditions of entry but they have barred trans WOMEN from entering if they have not undergone reassignment surgery,” one person said.
“This both assumes that their womanhood is conditional on their physicality (it's not) and that access to expensive and incredibly invasive surgery is not an issue. Trans WOMEN are WOMEN.”
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson from Randwick City Council said McIver’s Ladies Baths is located on Crown land and is sub-leased by the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association.
The Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association is ultimately responsible for “management and entry to the baths”, the spokesperson confirmed.
“Randwick Council is an inclusive organisation that values diversity in our community, and have always supported the inclusion of transgender women at McIver’s Ladies Baths,” the statement said.
“It is our understanding the Association has always had a policy of inclusion and 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.”
There has been online discussion recently about access to McIver’s Ladies Baths and we're glad to be part of the discussion. pic.twitter.com/yZio06Jsaj
— Randwick Council (@RandwickCouncil) January 12, 2021
Randwick City Council has since shared the statement on Twitter, acknowledging the discussion surrounding the baths and saying council was “glad to be part of the discussion”.
One woman on Twitter remarked although the FAQ page has been amended the “transphobia stays” and that transphobia is “rampant” in Australia.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.