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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Sydney pool cops heat for transgender rule

A popular women’s only pool in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is facing a backlash after saying that transgender customers would only be allowed in if they’ve had gender reassignment surgery.

The McIver’s Ladies Baths in Coogee uploaded the rule onto a FAQ section of its website, stoking hundreds of angry comments directed towards its management on social media.

Under a headline titled “Are transgender women allowed?” the website stated: “Only transgender women who’ve undergone a gender reassignment surgery are allowed entry.”

Overnight thousands of people have taken to the pool’s Facebook page to express their anger at the rule, arguing that is discriminatory and would be impossible to enforce.

“The ‘drop your pants so we can check’ policy is breathtakingly offensive, and evidence of extremely outdated, reductive and classist thinking,” one person wrote.

“I’m happy to swim with non-op trans women any day of the week (and yes, before the trolls go bonkers, I can and will do so at other pools); not happy with your dodgy reductive policy.”

“As a long-time swimmer at the pools I am really disgusted and upset by this policy, wrote another. “I’ve always enjoyed McIver’s because I’ve seen it as safe and accessible haven for so many in Sydney. Your website says a ‘safe space for all women’ but this policy says another.”

“This is deeply shameful, exclusionary and has changed my perception of you from a safe space for women to one that is highly unsafe,” added a third. “You should be deeply ashamed about this.”

There is also confusion about how the rule would be enforced.

On the pool’s website, it states that full nudity is prohibited by NSW law.

“Swimming bottoms must be worn at all times in the pool, and around the grounds. Violators may be asked to leave,” it states. “Topless swimming and sunbaking is allowed; though we do ask that patrons are considerate of their environment and the comfort levels of people around them.”

However, there appeared to be some support for the pool management amid a wave of criticism.

“Thank you for upholding the rights of women and girls,” one commenter wrote.

“Many thanks McIver’s. Women and girls value the opportunity to have spaces that are for women and girls only. These spaces are rare and it hurts no one,” added another.

Amid the backlash, the information on the pool’s website has changed.

Under the section about transgender women, it now reads: “McIver’s Ladies Baths has an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act awarded in 1995. Only women and children (boys up to 13 years of age) are permitted entry.”

It is unclear whether the rules for transgender women have actually changed and on the pool’s social media page, its management has told customers requests for any information regarding transgender people needs to be directed to Randwick City Council.

On its website, the pool management says the baths are a place of “healing, acceptance, and security” for women and children.

“Historically, our pool was one of very few places where women were allowed to swim,” it reads. “Protecting this special place for women has been the work of many generations of women. Today it provides a safe place for women of many ages, religions, and backgrounds.”

The McIver’s Ladies Baths are licensed by Randwick Council, and sub-licensed by the Randwick & Coogee Ladies Swimming Association Inc. (R & CLSA Inc.) from Crown Lands. The R & CLSA Inc. manages the pool and all fees collected from admission and annual pass sales are used for the operations of the baths. has contacted both the pool management and the council for comment and clarification around the rules.

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