Exclusive: A Saturday Showdown Is in the Works Over Trans Blowup at Wi Spa

Amid calls for a boycott and a planned protest, the Westlake spa responds to the viral incident

Mineral salt massages and hydro-dermabrasion facials weren’t enough to calm the nerves of some patrons at Wi Spa over the weekend. The tony Koreatown health club became the scene of a showdown over nudity in gendered spaces after a customer confronted spa staff about a trans woman with male genitals being allowed to disrobe in the spa’s female section. The ruckus was caught on camera and quickly went viral on Twitter on Sunday, fueling a furious online debate—with threats of a boycott against the spa—about the rights of trans people to use women’s spaces versus the rights of cisgender females to not be exposed to male anatomy. As of Tuesday morning, a pair of videos shared by pro-Trump conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong had 596k and 223k views, respectively.

According to users on Twitter, a protest is being planned for 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 3, at Wi Spa; counter-protesters are calling for their ranks to arrive at 10 a.m.

“So, it’s OK for a man to go into the women’s section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls—underage—in your spa? Wi Spa condones that, is that what you’re saying?” the woman filming the video can be heard saying to a masked spa worker. When the employee attempts to answer, saying something about “sexual orientation,” the customer, who seems to deny the existence of trans people, loses it even more. “What orientation?” she nearly shouts. “I see a dick! It lets me know he’s a man. He’s a man. He is a man. He is not no female.” Another customer is shown in video demanding a refund. “This is our first time, and then this shit happens, and we’re not coming back,” she says.

As it happens, Wi Spa isn’t the only similar space that’s had to balance accommodating both cis customers and trans customers in various stages of their transitions. A rep for Century Day and Night Spa on Olympic Boulevard recalls a similar situation just before the pandemic shut them down in spring 2020 in which a trans woman (“with everything reflected female on her driver’s license”) caused an uproar among cis gender female clients by exposing male genitals in the female pools and lockers. “[She] wouldn’t really use the spas, [she] just sat at the corner of the pool with [her] feet in the water and [her] legs spread or took front-facing showers,” the rep recalls. “People began to feel uncomfortable. It became very disruptive.” When the spa finally confronted her, she was adamant that the spa should attempt to normalize young girls and women viewing male genitalia.

“Typically,” says the rep, “transgender people are very mindful of not only their own comfort levels but the comfort levels of people around them. This person was not respectful.”

In a statement to Los Angeles about this weekend’s incident, Wi Spa points to California Civil Code 51 (b), which makes discriminating against trans and other gender non-conforming people in business establishments illegal in the state. “Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” the statement goes on. “Wi Spa strives to meet the needs of all its customers.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States weighed in on the issue, declining to hear a case from a Virginia school board that wanted the justices to reinstate its policy banning transgender student Gavin Grimm from using the boys room, upholding an appeals court decision that found the policy unconstitutional.

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