Trans activists have begun a campaign against what they say are discriminatory policies at the McIver’s Ladies Baths at Coogee.
An estimated 150 protestors gathered at the baths on Sunday January 17 to protest the new policy, recently published on the bath’s website, which says that only “transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery” can attend the baths.
In response to the policy, actress and protest organizer Janet Anderson started the hashtag #letthemswim, and the initial post had a reach of over 25,000.
An additional petition, calling for the baths to adopt an openly trans-inclusive policy and release a public apology has been signed over 12,000 times.
Janet Anderson told Urban Village: “It’s a misconception that all trans women want gender affirming surgery. There is no one path to womanhood.”
“This is not about keeping women safe, this is about policing women’s bodies.”
Since the campaign began McIver’s Ladies Baths — which is subleased to Randwick & Coogee Ladies Swimming Association by Randwick Council — have changed the policy on their website, saying that, “Yes. Transgender women are welcome to the McIver’s Ladies Baths, our definition of transgender is as per the NSW Discrimination Act.”
However, this has created further confusion, as many have argued that the act is both unclear, and often transphobic. Part 3A of the act defines a transgender person as someone “who identifies as a member of the opposite sex by living, seeking to live, as a member of the opposite sex.”
Alternatively, the Act also states that to be recognised as a transgender person in NSW, this requires having a “sex affirmation procedure” under the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. Sex affirmation procedures are often not undergone due to factors such as personal choice or financial limitations.
Janet Anderson says that an ambiguous policy can create discrimination.
“The lie that trans people are tricking you, are deceiving you into thinking they’re anything more than predators has absolutely no base in reality… Trans women are more often than not the victim of such predators,” she says.
McIver’s Ladies Baths have since removed their Facebook and website. Urban Village contacted the organisation Randwick & Coogee Ladies Swimming Association and the Randwick Council but neither has responded.
Supporters of #letthemswim hope that this will begin a needed conversation and spark change on how transgender people are often discriminated against in everyday life.
As Anderson puts it: “Its time for women’s spaces to start advocation for all women. No woman left behind.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Malone