Man caught undressing in front of girls at Green Lake locker room

Feb 15, 2016, 10:26 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2016, 1:54 pm
A Seattle Parks and Recreation official says a young adult male inappropriately used a female locke...
A Seattle Parks and Recreation official says a young adult male inappropriately used a female locker room at Evans Pool in Green Lake. But, if this individual was, in fact, transgender, was this situation handled correctly? (AP)
(AP)

Editorial note: I am choosing to refer to the individual as a male, as the Parks Department has related the story to me indicating as such.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has confirmed an adult male inappropriately used a female locker room at Evans Pool in Green Lake while a youth swim team used the facilities on Feb. 8

Was the individual a male inappropriately using the facilities or a transgender female well within her rights?

Related: One reason why Washington’s transgender bill failed in Olympia

“This didn’t seem like a transgender issue to staff &#8212 someone who was ‘identifying’ as a woman,” Seattle Parks and Recreation Communications Manager David Takami told me via email. “We have guidelines that allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.”

At around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, an adult went into the locker room to change. Takami says that at “no time did he verbally ‘identify’ as female,” nor did he request to be treated as transgender.

At the time, a local youth swim team was using the facilities. Young girls and some of their parents “became alarmed” that the male was changing in the female locker room and alerted the front desk staff. Staff members then “asked the man to leave and offered the availability of a family changing room.”

He did not accept the offer.

After his swim, he “again entered the women’s locker room to change.” Front desk staff once again asked him to leave “and he eventually did.”

Perhaps complicating matters, a witness who contacted KIRO Radio indicated this male was wearing men’s clothing as he entered the locker room.

Takami maintains that the parks department wants everyone to feel comfortable. But if this individual was, in fact, transgender, was this situation handled correctly? And is it appropriate to call the individual a male?

If this isn’t a “transgender issue” why didn’t staffers call the police? Critics of the failed transgender bathroom bill indicate there are already rules to punish people who break the law.

According to the law: “If another person expresses concern or discomfort about a person who uses a facility that is consistent with the person’s gender expression or gender identity, the person expressing discomfort should be directed to a separate or gender-neutral facility, if available.”

Related: New transgender rule gives gym owner ‘no protection from the law’

But Takami says everyone involved (the patrons complaining and the male individual) were offered a separate accommodation.

The law further states: “Any action taken against a person who is using a restroom or other gender-segregated facility, such as removing a person, should be taken due to that person’s actions or behavior while in the facility, and must be unrelated to gender expression or gender identity.”

There is no indication that this individual did anything inappropriate, if the person identifies as transgender. But Seattle Parks and Recreation did not believe he was transgender. So why didn’t they call the police?

“That was an option, but staff try to deal with issues immediately, and try not to call police as the first option,” Takami said.

This incident raises questions that go to the heart of the issue and controversy over gender-neutral bathroom protections. We’re told that the concern that a male using a female locker room is overblown and rarely happens. If you were to look into this incident, because police weren’t called, there’s no paper trail that the average person could discover indicating this issue happened. The only reason we’re aware of the incident is due to a KIRO Radio listener who spoke up. So it’s problematic for activists to claim these incidents don’t happen if police aren’t always being called.

Yet another concern is whether or not this was done by an activist to make a political point.

“In following guidelines laid out by the Washington Human Right Commission, the person did not exhibit a gender presentation or gender identity consistent with gender of the locker room as was asked to leave that locker room,” said Gunner Scott, transgender advocate and former LGBT Commission for the City of Seattle. “A concern I have is if this was a setup by opponents of LGBT equality to try to exploit the recent debate of basic rights of transgender youth, adults and families, as that tactic has been used by these opponents in different states.”

It’s a valid concern and one I fear will happen just to make a point. But that’s another reason parks and recreation failed by not calling the police to report the lawbreaker.

Here is Takami’s full statement to the Jason Rantz Show:

On Monday, Feb. 8, around 5:30 p.m., an individual, a young adult, came into the pool lobby, paid the fee for lap swim, and went into the woman’s locker room to change. At no time did he verbally “identify” as female. Staff didn’t see which locker room he entered as it was a busy time of day with a lot of swimmers coming and going. Previous to lap swim time at the pool was a local youth swim team practice. After lap swim was another children’s swim time.

Seeing this individual in the locker room, parents of swim team members (girls) and women who had paid for lap swim became alarmed and alerted our front desk staff. In response, an Evans pool staff member entered the women’s locker room and asked the man to leave and offered the availability of a family changing room. Other patrons were also offered the alternative of the family changing room. He eventually left the women’s locker room. After the lap swim, he again entered the women’s locker room to change. Front desk staff again asked him to leave and he eventually did.

This didn’t seem like a transgender issue to staff &#8212 someone who was “identifying” as a woman. We have guidelines that allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our facilities.

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Man caught undressing in front of girls at Green Lake locker room