At a San Diego city council session, an emotionally charged teen from California spoke of her traumatic experience at the YMCA – seeing a “naked man” in the women’s locker room. With terror and panic gripping her, she admitted to having no idea how to respond when confronted with an unexpectedly exposed penis. The individual was later identified as a transgender woman; however, it had already left its mark on this female youth’s psyche.
Last month, Rebecca Philips was taken aback when she found herself in an uncomfortable situation: she accidentally encountered a transgender woman with a penis between her legs while changing clothes at the Santee YMCA. In spite of this person’s gender identification as female, Rebecca couldn’t help but feel uneasy and shocked by the sight before her.
“As I was showering after my workout, I saw a naked male in the women’s locker room,” she said. “I immediately went back into the shower, terrified, and hid behind their flimsy excuse for a curtain until he was gone.”
The seventeen-year-old student was driven to speak with the city council out of fear and concern when she realized that a person anatomically identified as a male had access to the female locker room. She wanted answers from her local government on how they planned to address this policy which made it possible for transgender women to use traditionally gender-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms.
Rebecca articulated that her main concern was her five-year-old sister being confronted with the unclothed transgender woman in the YMCA locker room. She emphasized not wanting to subject her little one to an unknowing experience of witnessing a penis while preparing for an activity.
“This is the YMCA, where hundreds of children spend their summer afternoons in childcare camps,” Philips added. “This is the YMCA where my little sister took gymnastics lessons. The locker room was supposed to be her safe haven to gossip with her friends and shower and change.”
Rebecca reported the transgender woman to YMCA staff but instead was harshly scolded for her actions. She was informed that this individual had every entitlement to use the ladies’ locker room given their gender identity, as it is lawfully acceptable in California for people to utilize facilities aligned with their gender identity.
During her address to the city council, the teen confided that she had informed YMCA staff of her worries, yet they assured her that the “man I saw was indeed allowed to shower wherever he pleased.”
She continued, “A grown male can shower alongside a teenage girl at your YMCA here in Santee.”
Rebecca contends that the staff of the YMCA denigrated her for holding transphobic opinions.
“I was made to feel as if I had done something wrong,” she stated. “The indecent exposure of a male to a female minor was an inconvenience to them.”
The YMCA released a statement declaring: “We are aware of a situation involving two members in the locker room of the Santee YMCA earlier this month. The comfort and safety of all our members are our highest priority. As a community-focused organization, we strive to meet the needs of all individuals. We recognize that birth and gender identity are sensitive subjects. We rely on subject matter experts, laws, and guidelines established by the State of California to ensure our policies are welcoming and respectful for all community members.”