McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee updated their website on Monday after being called out for an exclusionary statement about transgender women.

The original text read:

 “Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry. Please contact us for further information if required.”

The updated text is less direct: 

“Yes. Transgender women are welcome to the McIver’s Ladies Baths, our definition for transgender is as per the NSW Discrimination Act.”

This definition has been in place since 1995 and requires gender confirmation surgery before an individual is legally considered to have transitioned.

The Baths’ Facebook page posted later that day, asking that all queries be directed to the Randwick City Council.

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 The post was the centre of some controversy, with thousands of community members expressing their disappointment, before it was also removed.

McIver’s Ladies Baths Facebook post with comments.

 

A Council spokesperson said, “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.

“McIver’s Ladies Baths is located on Crown land and sub-leased to the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association who are ultimately responsible for management and entry to the baths. 

“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.”

The Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association was not available for comment.

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 Former national sportsperson turned documentarian, Caroline Layt, said the policy was antiquated.

“Identifying as trans is not something you do on a whim. Trans women aren’t a threat. I’m shocked this is happening in 2021… Trans women just want to be, and to be happy, and to be included in enjoying these spaces… but not surprising… In the 90s, New South Wales was the benchmark for progressive trans policies. Now, it’s lagging behind. Other states don’t require you to provide surgical evidence because that isn’t inclusive of all trans people. That, alone, shows just how discriminatory our outdated policies are in this state.

“Some of the other victims here are ciswomen who might be more masculine looking. I’ve had many of my butch lesbian mates tell me they cop it, too, when these physical distinctions start to be policed.”

Ms Layt said the situation has at least resulted in some positive discourse.

“Backlash on the Baths’ Facebook shows that community attitudes towards trans women are changing.”

But she, like many others in the community, is still waiting for answers.

“I’d like to put it back on the people managing the Baths: what’s the reason for doing this?

“And how do you police this anyway? Are they going around looking down people’s pants?”

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