Tacoma YMCA announces new rules for transgendered members – and $1 million to upgrade locker room privacy

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TACOMA – The YMCA in Tacoma on Tuesday announced plans to spend $1 million to improve privacy in its locker rooms and showers, alongside a change in policy that will allow transgendered people to use those facilities without discrimination.

The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties has endured criticism from all sides this year as it attempted to set a policy for the use of bathrooms, locker rooms and showers for transgendered people.

A new policy was set in place in April that allowed members to use the facility of the gender they identified with. But after news of the policy spread months later, many members became upset.

A second policy was put in place with more complex rules. This time, however, members of the transgendered community became upset because the new policy tied the revision to fears of child abuse.

Tuesday’s latest revision appears to be far simpler.

“I want all our members, donors and members of the public to be assured: We will serve all – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – and we want anyone who comes to us to feel welcomed and included,” president Bob Ecklund wrote in a release announcing the new plan. “Harassment and discrimination of our members, staff, donors, and volunteers will not be tolerated.”

The $1 million investment will “enhance privacy” in locker rooms, showers and changing facilities, as well as add private locker rooms. Those renovations will begin early next year, the YMCA said.

Ecklund wrote in the statement that YMCA officials have spent the last several months talking to “leaders of LGBTQ advocacy groups, representatives of the faith community, those opposed to accommodating transgender people, representatives from public agencies, elected officials, donors, members, and others.”