MAY 16, 2011 4:20PM

How the pool spoiled the spa

Rate: 3 Flag

It's not every day I get to go to a spa. Few things can be better than a spa weekend in the Catskills with a childhood friend. From yoga and cardio, facials and massages, then steam room and sauna we had it all, not to mention delicious, healthful food. I should have returned home glowing, and I did, for about three minutes. Then I picked up the mail.

Maybe the registered letter was a paycheck--I've recently started two part time jobs. No such luck. I opened it and started shaking. I had instead received a reprimand from the director of the private pool we belong to. He had scheduled an appointment to which I responded, asking for the proposed agenda. Not hearing back, I never showed. As it turns out the agenda was the locker rooms.

Two years ago he demanded that each time Ruthie, our transgender daughter, visit the toilet/locker room we would have to approach the manager on duty who would escort us, empty the room, then stand guard while our business was done. I flatly refused. When we attempted to use the bathroom for the first time after his requirements, entering was no big deal. When we exited, sure enough a sheepish young manager stood guarding the room. I was furious. Clearly somebody had been appointed to watch our every movement and follow us if we ventured into the bathroom. But my anger soon abated since it turned out nobody bothered us again. Until yesterday.

The registered letter asked that we honor the 2009 agreement to inform a manager to use the bathroom in order to offer us "safety and privacy" as well as assure the "safety and privacy" of other club members. I don't even know where to start. One might suggest we use a family-style changing room, but in this case there is none, not even a staff bathroom. Furthermore, this avoids the question of why it would be necessary in the first place. Here's why his proposal stinks:

  1. Ruthie is more at risk if she has to be escorted to the bathroom virtually ensuring that she receive unwanted attention. Being singled out is never a safe proposal for a transgender individual.
  2. Privacy is not an issue with the bathroom as each toilet has a door. Any of you women out there ever accidentally see someone's genitals in the bathroom? Ever?
  3. Privacy is not an issue as far as Ruthie's body. She is more than anxious to keep her body private and would always use a stall.
  4. Privacy is not an issue for those who change in stalls.
  5. Privacy is not really an issue for someone who chooses to undress without a stall. Clearly that person already doesn't care about privacy. (Although I have never seen anybody undress publicly at the pool, reportedly some older patrons are more carefree.)
  6. What about Ruthie? Isn't she tricking the imaginary carefree undresser by masquerading as a female? Well, no, since she identifies as a girl, although this may be misunderstood by the uneducated. 
  7. Does her penis present a threat to others? How so? If so, it is only fair that a genital check be administered at the door to make sure that everybody's genitals--including those of intersex individuals--match their locker room choice. Intersex individuals are not uncommon, comprising a similar proportion of the population as redheads. 
  8. What is the risk of Ruthie seeing the carefree dresser? I can only surmise that the pool director imagines that Ruthie, having a male body, might be sexually attracted to the elderly carefree dresser. (Huh?) This idea assumes that gender identity has anything to do with gender preference. It then leads to the question: should pool members be screened for gender preference and then be directed to the opposite locker room? How would this be implemented? We have to assume that lesbians use the womens' room and gays use the men's room on a regular basis. Is this against pool rules and would these rules be tolerated by the public?
  9. Is Ruthie a danger as a sexual deviant? Well, no, because she's a 12 year old girl. Besides which, gender identity has nothing to do with sexual deviancy.

I hope all this speculation will be moot. I wrote a brief letter to the director enclosing a copy of Ruthie's birth certificate which identifies her as a female.  It said, among other thins, "As for my daughter there seems to be a misunderstanding. Per the attached copy,  she is a girl. I trust there will be no further inquiries into this matter."

Another day in my life as a mom of a transgender child. But, hey, I might have a title to my next book, "The Carefree Dresser." I like it.

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I hate that you are caught within the hysteria of this transitional period in history. Good for you for tackling the issues head on.
I'm going to be a star character in "The Carefree Dresser." Maybe the Peeping Tomgirl?
Great post! Thanks for sharing. I'll never understand this kind of ignorance. As the previous post said, this is a transitional period in history that will hopefully pass and we'll accept everyone for who they are.
Sigh. Another day in your struggles ... and totally unnecessary.
Poor Ruthie... It's so mean that she's being singled out like this. I wonder how people can live happily when they're as ignorant as the pool management. It frustrates me. I really hope that your letter will settle the issue. Good luck...