US: Health spa refuses to allow ‘abnormal’ gay and transgender customers
A Virginia spa has stated that it has a policy not to accept “abnormal sexually orientated customer” after it kicked out a trans woman.
California resident, Riya Suising was in Virginia on business when she visited Spa World in Centreville, reports the Fairfax Times.
Spa World has Korean-style communal baths that are segregated by gender.
Ms Suising claims that while she was relaxing in the female bathing pool, a Spa World manager told her she had to leave the establishment.
She explained: “They told me that I was not welcome there and to leave because I looked a little different.”
The spa management told Ms Suising that five customers had complained about her presence in the spa.
Ms Suising describes herself as very tall with broad shoulders and muscles from marathon training that may set her apart from natural born females but otherwise her gender is presented as feminine.
She claimed: “None of the complaints, as they were described to me, referenced my genitalia in anyway. I can’t believe that they would discriminate based on physical appearance. I was not doing anything but keeping to myself.”
Ms Suising was humiliated and left the spa but filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
She said: “I was mortified. It was obvious that this business discriminates against any ‘abnormal appearing’ persons, specifically against LGBT people, and likely against anyone else not appearing up to their standards.”
The Better Business Bureau opened an investigation and received a response from a Spa World representative on 28 January explaining the reasons for ejecting Ms Suising.
The spa stated in writing: “It is our policy to not accept any kinds of abnormal sexual oriented customers to our facility such as homosexuals, or transgender(s).”
The representative goes on to say that the policy is to protect young children: “Also, for the safety and the comfort of young children at Spa World, we strongly forbid any abnormal sexual behaviors and orientation in our facility. Despite the controversial issue of homosexuality and transgender, it is our policy to not accept them.”
Spa World’s response shocked Ms Suising who questioned the state of LGBT equality in Virginia.
She said: “In California, this would be illegal. I am not sure exactly what the state of LGBT equality is in Virginia, but I hope it is more progressive than this.”
Rishi Awatramani, communications director for The Virginia New Majority, a Virginia based political action group has said: “There is nothing in the Virginia or the Fairfax County code that protects gender expression or sexual orientation discrimination. It is kind of unbelievable, but true.”
Ms Suising is not looking for any financial compensation and she is not planning any legal action against Spa World but she would like an apology and to raise awareness that what happened to her is a form of discrimination.
She said: “This has happened to me a few times before in other parts of the country, and perhaps I am pushing the boundaries of this type of discrimination, but I am not purposely looking for controversy. That is not my goal. I too, think it is correct to prohibit ‘abnormal sexual behavior’ in a public place, but a transgendered person just being there, behaving appropriately like any other customer should not count as such.”
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