It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it was no laughing matter for Seattle women in various states of undress when this happened earlier this month.
According to NBC affiliate KING, the incident occurred at Evans Pool, a city-run facility, on Feb. 8. It was 5:30 p.m. on a Monday, a busy time during which the pool is reserved for swimming laps.
According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, a man wearing board shorts entered the women’s locker room and took off his shirt. Women alerted staff, who told the man to leave, but he said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here.”
The law in question is statewide and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Since the intruder claims to self-identify as a female, he was technically within his rights. As a result, police were not even called, not even after the “man” returned a second time, while young girls were changing for swim practice.
The article notes that opponents of the law say it opens up bathrooms and locker rooms to voyeurs, but supporters say that’s “an unrealistic fear.”
A regular user of the pool, Aldan Shank, told reporters:
Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable.
As far as policy to protect everyone, Seattle Parks spokesman David Takami says they’re still working on the issue. Right now, there’s no specific protocol for how someone should demonstrate their gender in order to access a bathroom. Employees just rely on verbal identification or physical appearance, and this man offered neither.