Back in January, Star Observer reported on the discriminatory move made by McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee, aimed at banning transgender women who had not undergone gender affirmation surgeries from using the facilities. It was a move that rightly angered many. Now, the management team behind the decision have been turfed out in a recent vote by more than 50 members of the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Club.
In January, a statement appeared on the facilities website stating, “Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry. Please contact us for further information if required.”
Quickly back tracking, the wording was updated to a less overt phrasing, instead reading: “Yes. Transgender women are welcome to the McIver’s Ladies Baths, our definition for transgender is as per the NSW Discrimination Act.”
The Pool itself, which was granted an exemption in 1995 under the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1977, is the only facility of its kind in Australia to operate solely for women and children. Run for many years by volunteers, it was the most recent decision by Randwick Council which saw a number of individuals hired as paid employees including outgoing president Marianne Kadunc and her committee members that has seen the facilities run ‘more as a business than a not-for-profit entity’.
It is said that the team had increased entry fees while also implementing unnecessary rules and regulations unrelated to COVID19, which had further distanced itself from the purpose and women it had stand to serve for close to 100 years.
Interim president-elect Tracy Grujovic confirmed this sentiment in an interview with the Herald, saying that “there had been an authoritarian running of the pool of late, with lots of restrictions and a loss of the welcoming, leisurely atmosphere and spirit the place once had. We want to give the pool back to the community… it had lost its soul and ethos under this management.”
The members who voted to oust the most recent management team have also asked Randwick Council to undertake a comprehensive review into the facilities operations, with secretary-elect Colleen Kelly, who has swum at the pool for more than 60 years adding that “[The] pool has survived on the sweat of volunteer women’s backs since 1922 – this is the only pool of its kind in Australia that’s a safe space that welcomes all women: migrant women, those with disabilities, women who don’t want to show their bodies publicly.
“We have always accommodated all types of women including trans women – for many years with no one saying anything until we had a more aggressive response from the current management.” Kelly adds that she had stopped using the facilities under the current management.
McIver’s Ladies Baths will be closed for a period of three months, commencing this Thursday while repair and upgrades works are undertaken by Randwick Council.