A federal judge in Washington State ruled Monday that a women-only nude spa must accept biological men who identify as transgender but still have penises.
U.S. District Court judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein upheld a ruling by the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) that required Olympus Spa to modify its women-only rule to accommodate "trans women" who have male genitalia.
Haven Wilvich, a local trans activist, filed the initial complaint with the commission in February 2020, alleging that the spa had denied his membership application. After being served with a Notice of Complaint of Discrimination, spa president Sun Lee responded, saying the spa had no documentation showing that Wilvich had attempted to use their facilities. The spa also defended its female-only rule, stating it was "essential for the safety, legal protection, and well-being of our customers" and in accordance with its Christian values.
The family-owned spa, which is modeled on traditional sex-segregated Korean bathhouses, already accepts trans women who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery. The WSHRC stated that this policy was discriminatory because it "focuses on the genitals of patrons" rather than "gender identity."
In response to the ruling, the spa sued, saying the commission had violated its First Amendment rights. While Rothstein ruled against the spa, she gave Olympus 30 days to amend and refile its complaint to her dismissal order.
The ruling comes as biological males are increasingly being permitted to enter female-only spaces. The Biden administration's proposed Title IX rules would effectively force schools to permit biological males who identify as female to use women's bathrooms and locker rooms.