Concerns about an alleged peeping incident in a pool change room led to a gathering of nearly 100 people outside the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre this past weekend.
Janayh Wright said on Friday, Feb. 3, she accompanied her daughter and niece into the pool change room, and said a person wearing a mask and a wig was loitering there, then tried to peep at her daughter from an adjacent changing stall.
Wright “exchanged words” with the individual, who said it was within their human rights to be there, and Wright then escorted them from the premises.
“I was absolutely outraged, because where’s my child’s human rights? Where is safety for my child? … Kids don’t have a voice and we need to be their voice. We need to go to all lengths to make sure nothing happens to them,” she said.
The City of Nanaimo, in a statement, said there have been two recent reports “regarding the activities of [a] potential transgender individual in the women’s change room,” and that NAC staff have been in contact with police multiple times.
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said it appeared the same person may have been involved in both incidents. He said there is no surveillance footage and no determination of any charges right now, but said the complaints are being actively investigated.
Darcie Osborne, the city’s director of recreation and culture, said there is a code of conduct at civic facilities. Staff members who observe concerning behaviour use their judgment whether to issue a warning, ban an individual from the facility, or call RCMP.
Osborne said the city takes incidents related to public safety very seriously.
“I do believe very strongly in our procedures that we have in place. We’ve been doing this for a lot of years,” she said. “With the nature of this going on right now, [staff] are very aware of it and they’re all very conscious of who’s entering the building and who’s doing what.”
The city’s statement outlined its code of conduct policies and also affirmed trans people’s rights to use the washrooms and changerooms that correspond to their gender identities.
The Nanaimo Pride Society posted a statement about the incident this past weekend because social media posts about the alleged peeping incident have led to troubling “anti-trans talking points.”
The society condemned predatory behaviour and added that “gender identity is not and should not be an excuse to cause harm to anyone.” However, the statement also pointed to a growing number of people in Nanaimo actively attacking transgender people via social media without much pushback.
“As such, Nanaimo Pride Society is calling on our community and allies to be responsible in any interaction with this incident. Please call out transphobia when you see it. Please recognize that a large amount of the negative attention of this incident will be falsely directed at people of trans experience, and trans feminine people specifically…” the statement noted. “We are incredibly worried that innocent people will be hurt by this.”
Wright said she believes the individual who was peeping was “appropriating” transgender identity, but said “it’s not about a transgender issue. This has nothing to do with that. What this has to do with is my child’s safety.”
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