PIERCE CO., Wash. - The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap counties dropped a policy on Thursday that asked transgender members to use private bathrooms.
YMCAs are now allowing transgendered people to use the locker room that matches the gender with which they identify.
“In October we released a statement asking our transgendered members at our family facilities to use private changing rooms,” explained Michelle LaRue, spokesperson for the Pierce and Kitsap county YMCAs.
LaRue said immediately those members felt targeted, alienated.
“So then this week we said we are not going to discriminate against anybody and that includes gender identity, that includes locker rooms,” said LaRue, which means now members will use the locker room consistent with their gender identity.
The state Human Rights Commission wrote a new policy specifically for locker room use last month, and the Y said this makes it compliant.
“It’s fine with me. They’re human beings just like the rest of us,” said Jamal McGee when we told him about the change. He brings his 3-year-old daughter to Tacoma’s Morgan Family YMCA.
Many parents like McGee are pleased, although the Y said it was parent complaints that led to the October policy, so there are plenty who are concerned it’s no longer in place
“Even not so much the transgender, but what that opens up to — it just makes it seem like anyone can use any locker room,” said Kari Grossenbach, at the Morgan Family Y with her son.
The Y said it has safeguards in place to prevent that. Staff members are allowed to ask questions -- if they see someone walking into the locker room, they can ask that person to verbally state their gender, then employees can check it in the computer system to make sure it matches.
Jim Godwin said that’s not enough.
“I’m not trying to be mean, I just don’t agree,” he told us.
Godwin is the pastor at the church across the street and a soon to be former member of the Morgan Family YMCA.
“I just feel like I need to step out, and I’ll look for some other kind of place to do my exercises,” he said.
The Y told KIRO 7 News that its board just approved a million dollars in upgrades to make the locker rooms more private for everyone.