Man tests new transgender protections by undressing in women's locker room

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

SEATTLE - In the early evening of Feb. 8, a man walked into the women’s locker room at the Evans Pool and took his shirt off.

When a woman told the staff about him, he proclaimed: “The law has changed and I have a right to be here.”

He was referring to a new state law saying buildings open to the public must allow transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms they identify with, according to a spokesman for Seattle Parks and Recreation.

However, in this case, the man who used the women's locker room at the Evans Pool did not identify as a woman nor as a transgender person. The move may have been more of a protest against the new rule.

“I appreciate that he wanted to make a point, but I think there’s a time and place to make that happen,” said one man outside the pool.

Others protested Monday in Olympia, claiming the new law has too many loopholes that could allow predators into locker rooms.

“I would not feel safe in a locker room showering next to an anatomically male person,” said one woman at Monday’s protest.

However, people KIRO 7 spoke with outside of the pool did not seem concerned about allowing transgender people into locker rooms.

“We need to be open to it,” said one woman who comes to the rec center for yoga.  “People need to be able to identify however they feel, and I support that.”

Ultimately, the man who took his shirt off was told to leave the women’s locker room and finish changing in a gender neutral private family bathroom.

The spokesman for Seattle Parks and Recreation said staff handled the situation appropriately, but added that the law is new and policies and procedures around the issue are being evaluated.

A memo was handed out to staff at the pool following the incident. It asks employees to explain that the  policy of allowing people to pick the bathroom that matches their self-identity is a matter of state and local law.