A transgender man was told he could not use a swimming pool by a lifeguard unless he wore a “female one-piece swimsuit”.
Gabi Young said the incident took place in New York City on 20 August at a gym he had specifically joined for the swimming facilities.
Young, a transgender man using he/they pronouns, was wearing a blue swimming top and blue swim shorts when he was stopped by a female lifeguard as he approached the pool.
The lifeguard asked: “Excuse me, can I help you?”
“I’m going into the pool,” Young responded.
The lifeguard then allegedly told Young, “You need a bathing suit to go into the pool,” adding that it needed to be a “One piece. A female one piece.”
Young was eventually allowed to use the pool after objecting to the comments, but stated that he no longer feels comfortable in the gym because of being “judged”.
“I was embarrassed that she came up to me in front of everyone, actually in front of the people that I did the yoga classes with,” Young explained.
“I’m being policed for what I’m wearing like I’m supposed to fit into a ‘female’ box just because I have breasts. No, there are men and non-binary people with breasts. Why should I fit into a box?”
Young said that he made managers at the gym aware of the incident, though has not heard from them since being told they would discuss the matter privately with the member of staff.
“I was having panic attacks just to return to that location,” Young explained of attempting to return to the gym.
He said that he is “an emotional mess” and is demanding that Equinox, the chain of gyms he was attending, take action.
Young added: “I never thought of it before, but now I’m thinking, ‘am I being judged on how I’m dressed going through the door?’
“That’s why a lot of trans people don’t want to go to gyms.”
He has since filed a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission over what allegedly happened to him at the Equinox gym.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Equinox said that staff at the Manhattan-based venue had looked into the incident and that the lifeguard mistook the clothes for streetwear.
“We strive to be supportive of all members and want everyone to be able to enjoy the benefits of membership in the way that maximizes their comfort,” the statement continued.
“Equinox takes the member’s concern very seriously and is reviewing it with club staff.”
The New York City Human Rights Commission urged anyone experiencing similar incidents in the city to file a complaint as Young did.
“The New York City Human Rights Law provides strong protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people, including prohibiting discrimination and harassment in accessing facilities in places of public accommodation,” they explained in a statement.