Transgender woman denied change room access at Victoria pool
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Tuesday, September 29, 2015 4:53PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:20PM PDT
A transgender woman says she was humiliated when staff at a City of Victoria-run pool denied her access to both the men’s and women’s change rooms.
Brittney Remington, who is about to undergo hormone therapy, said not only was she forced to change in a first-aid room at Crystal Pool on Monday – staff made fun of her too.
The avid swimmer said when she first went to buy a pool pass Monday, a staff member told her city protocol allows transgender people to use whichever change rooms they identify with.
When she returned that afternoon, she found something had changed.
“I went back to go swimming, and I was dressed in a dress…I was about to go in the female change room and they said ‘no.’ They stopped me,” she said. “The woman I was talking to told me that I was not allowed to change in the female change room.”
Remington said she was led to the first-aid room and that pool staff members were snickering at her on the way.
She said she submitted a formal discrimination complaint to Crystal Pool Tuesday, and doesn’t feel like she can go back because of the “very embarrassing” incident.
“I have mostly feminine clothing, so now I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where I can go. I like to exercise, I like to swim,” she said. “It’s disgusting, it should’ve never happened.”
The City of Victoria issued an apology to Remington Tuesday after hearing about the incident.
The head of the parks and recreation department told CTV News there is a policy to let transgender people use whichever change room they identify with, and that in Remington’s case, a serious mistake was made.
“We at all times take pride in the level of service, and wanting to make sure that we take any step necessary to make our patrons feel welcome, and to know that this is a fully accessible space,” said director Thomas Soulliere. “It’s clear, hearing from the accounts of the patron, that the experience was not one that made that individual feel welcome or safe in the facility, so that is something we absolutely need to address in terms of our staff training.”
Soulliere added that transgender people are only told to change in a first-aid room if they don’t feel comfortable using the gendered change rooms.
He also said the city is investigating Remington’s complaint that staff were laughing at her.
Remington said she accepted the city’s apology, but wants to use her humiliation as a teachable moment – to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I’m strong, I feel strong. What is this going to do to somebody else if they go through the same thing? They might not be as strong as I am,” she said.
The city said it is hosting a workshop next month on making sports facilities more welcoming to all people, and said they’ll invite Remington to take part.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Scott Cunningham