Transgender woman at Santee’s YMCA says she was ‘shaken’ by outcry over use of locker room
The Santee YMCA will close again this weekend ahead of further protests, the latest fallout from a teenage girl’s public complaint about sharing a locker room with a transgender woman.
The facility will close all Saturday, just days after closing early because hundreds of people gathered outside to protest a California civil rights law requiring equal accommodations, including access to bathrooms.
Wednesday’s rally saw brief scuffles between a small group of people standing away from the main protesters and counter-protesters, and YMCA officials said county facilities were receiving threatening messages.
“Our YMCA and our staff continue to be the target of credible threats, negative attention and electronic attacks simply for serving our mission and obeying state law,” wrote Shelly McTighe-Rippengale, Vice -Executive President of the YMCA of San Diego County. an email.
Even as conservative groups vow to sue the organization and overturn the California law, a woman has come forward to say she was likely the person the teenager spotted.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Christynne Wood, 66, said she was “devastated” by the outcry.
It wasn’t the first time Wood had struggled to use the locker room.
Several years ago, she said an El Cajon gym denied her access to its women’s locker room.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Crunch Fitness on its behalf in 2018 and won an undisclosed settlement just over a year ago.
“The real thing that makes me happily happy is the word now is that you can’t pull this off with the transgender community,” Wood told the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time.
“Whether you’re uncomfortable or not doesn’t matter. People weren’t comfortable with mainstreaming in the 50s and 60s,” added Wood, who is black.
Although many speakers on Wednesday opposed to locker room access said the rules allowed adults to accost children, there was no interaction between Wood and 17-year-old Rebecca Phillips.
Earlier this month, at a Santee board meeting, Phillips said she was taking a shower at the YMCA when she spotted a naked person she thought was a man.
She said she immediately hid behind a shower curtain until the other person left.
Phillips later told Tucker Carlson that she saw the person’s “back”.
“I’m in one of the most vulnerable positions a girl can be in,” she said on Fox News, and she said the situation made her feel unsafe.
Wood said that on the day in question, she attended her water aerobics class, then showered, dried off and dressed. She said she hugged her instructor and a friend and said they would see each other in the new year.
After spending a few days out of town, she returned to a call from a friend offering her support and talking about the video. “I went, ‘What video?'” Wood said. The friend sent him an Instagram link to a clip from the council meeting.
“I looked at it and started crying,” Wood said Thursday. “Does this happen to me twice? I just couldn’t believe it.
Wood said she did not recall seeing Phillips. “This person has never, ever, ever interacted with me.”
“I could be shopping at Vons and this person could walk past me, and I would have no idea who they are.”
Wood said gym staff supported her and she was “warmed up” by Wednesday’s counter-protesters who waived rainbow flags.
When asked if she felt safe returning to the Santee YMCA, Wood replied, “Oh my God, yes,” adding that the facility made it clear to her that she should report any harassment. She said she was a regular at the Y and left Crunch Fitness after it stopped offering a class she wanted to take.
Phillips did not immediately respond to an interview request.
The uproar also showed splits among conservatives.
The rally scheduled for Saturday was criticized by Tracie Thill, founder of Santee Parents 4 Choice and organizer of Wednesday’s event.
“I am appalled and furious” that “people who don’t even live or work in Santee will exploit what is happening here for what they believe is the greater good,” she wrote online. “All of this will only open the door to counter-protesters and perpetuate a false negative stereotype of Santee.”
A flyer for Saturday’s protest includes the logo of Lexit, a national organization of conservative Latinos. The group did not immediately return a request for comment.
In addition, new protests have raised the possibility of violence.
Sheriff’s deputies were not visible on the grounds in front of the YMCA for most of Wednesday evening, even as a scuffle broke out between a small group of people shouting obscenities.
When asked if the department had held back so as not to further annoy an aggressive minority, Santee Station Chief Capt. Michael McNeill replied only that “we assess each event as a whole ‘for’ determine an appropriate response”.
He declined to say whether a helicopter and a drone flying overhead belonged to the agency. The department “uses many different resources and platforms to monitor and observe activity,” he wrote in an email.
On Wednesday, many of the more aggressive attendees wore masks, making identification difficult. They did not appear to be affiliated with Santee Parents 4 Choice or the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which helped organize the pro-LGBTQ counter-protesters.