McIver’s Ladies Baths protest outside Randwick City Council meeting


A group of transgender rights activists staged a protest outside a Randwick City Council meeting after a Sydney pool for women tried to shut out certain trans people using the facility.

The women-and-children-only pool McIver’s Ladies Baths came under fire earlier this year after the “frequently asked question” section on the website was changed to say that the only transgender women that were allowed there were those who undergone gender confirmation surgery.

“The situation with the baths highlights that the struggle is not over for our rights, and there are people trying to push back against them all the time,” organiser April Holcombe told the crowd of about 20 people who gathered outside the meeting.

“A bath might not seem like a major infringement of the rights of every trans person in Australia. But it’s about putting a foot in the door, about testing the waters (of transphobia).”

A counter protester who shouted transphobic slogans was told to leave by police officers who were present.

Another counter protester, who said she is a regular swimmer at the pool, said she didn’t recognise trans women as female and so didn’t want them to be allowed at the pool.

“If you’re born male, you’re a male,” said Margot Oliver, 70.

But NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong, who also attended the protest, said “trans people (should be allowed) to nominate for themselves that they are who they are”.

The issue of the baths was not on the agenda for Tuesday night’s council meeting, a council spokesman said.

The pool is managed by the Randwick and Coogee Ladies Swimming Association, under a sub-license from the council.

After a social media storm, the association changed the language on the website to say transgender women, as defined in NSW law, are allowed at the pool.

However, that change would still exclude transgender women who haven’t had surgery because the law defines a recognised transgender person as an adult who has “undergone a sex affirmation procedure”.

“In response to recent events, we’ve listened, we hear you! Our aim has been and always will be to support our diverse community. R & CLSA Inc. is meeting with various organisations and will update our community when more information becomes available,” the website currently reads.

The association declined to comment.

Ms Holcombe said the pool association is “hiding behind the law” to continue to discriminate.

“The pool has the right and power to nonetheless welcome trans women of all types,” she said.

Ms Leong said she wanted to change the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, which specifies a recognised transgender person as someone who has had the surgery.

She said there should not be “some requirement from multiple surgical interventions, or doctors or so-called ‘experts’ who insult people by saying they know better who people are than the people themselves”.



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