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LGBTQ Nation: Women-only spa ordered to let in trans women who haven’t had bottom surgery


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A district court judge has ordered a spa in Washington state to allow trans women who have not undergone bottom surgery to access its facilities.

According to local media outlet the Lynwood Times, the decision stems from a Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) complaint brought by Haven Wilvich, a trans woman who says she was told in January 2020 that she would not be allowed to attend an event at Olympus Spa because she had not received bottom surgery at the time.


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Located in Lynnwood, Washington, Olympus Spa is reportedly modeled after Jjimjilbang, traditional sex-segregated Korean spas where nudity is required.

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“The tradition has existed for about 500 years from Korean ancestry,” the spa’s owner, Sun Lee, told the Lynnwood Times. “Where women, particularly women, go through a traditional, ceremonial, act of cleansing and the person has to be naked.”

According to the outlet, transgender women who have received vaginoplasty are allowed at the spa.

Wilvich says that in January 2020, she was invited to attend a gathering at Olympus Spa with a women’s group of which she is a member. When she called ahead to confirm that she would be allowed into the spa, Wilvich says she was told that “transgender women without surgery are not welcome because it could make other customers and staff uncomfortable.”

“It felt really terrible to be invited to an event and find out I can’t attend because the spa is willing to reduce me to my genitalia and not see me as the woman that I am,” she told the Lynwood Times.

After Wilvich filed a complaint with the WSHRC in February 2020, the commission reportedly sent a notice to the spa the following November. The spa received a second complaint in March 2021 requesting a written response from the spa’s owner.

In Lee’s response, he defended the spa’s policy, citing his Christian faith, concerns for the “safety, legal protection, and well-being” of customers and employees, and potential criminal penalties under the state’s laws against lewd conduct, according to anti-trans independent media outlet Reduxx. Lee wrote that while the spa was willing to consider a review of its policy, “We are unwilling to remake the jjimjilbang haven we have worked so hard over many years to build and preserve, simply for the sake of promoting gender neutrality.”

The WSHRC ruled that the spa’s policy violated Washington’s anti-discrimination law, and offered Olympus Spa a pre-finding settlement, reportedly requiring the removal of all references to “biological women” from their site and inclusivity training for staff, according to Reduxx.

In March 2022, Lee filed a lawsuit against WSHRC executive director Andreta Armstrong. The suit reportedly alleges violations of Olympus Spa’s first amendment rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association.

Earlier this month, Western Washington District Court Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein dismissed the suit. The Lynwood Times reports that Olympus Spa plans to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Wilvich said that she has been “bombarded with hateful messages and threats” since the case went public. She said that she plans to request that the WSHRC protect the identities of members of marginalized communities in public records.

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