A women’s only nude Korean spa does not have a right to exclude patrons with male genitalia who identify as transgender, a federal judge ruled Monday.
The Washington State Human Rights Commission previously ruled that Olympus Spa violated gender identity protections by excluding patrons who identified as transgender women, and Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington upheld this ruling, determining that it did not violate the First Amendment. The spa is for women only, and patrons are typically naked while using its facilities and services.
“Biological women are welcome,” the spa’s website read, according to the ruling. “It is the policy of Olympus Spa not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national original, sex, age, or disability in its programs or activities, as required by applicable laws and regulations.”
In addition to its female-only policy, spa employees also refused to perform massages and body scrubs on naked men, according to the ruling.
Rothstein, who was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, determined that the state’s anti-discrimination law was not discriminatory on its face and therefore didn’t run afoul of the First Amendment.
Spas, gyms and other facilities have struggled to maintain women’s only spaces as transgender activists push them to allow men who identify as women inside; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued to force a California gym to allow a man who identifies as a transgender woman to use the women’s locker rooms in 2016, and the same person was accused of being naked in front of an underage girl in a different gym’s locker room years later. Another transgender individual sparked protests in July 2021 for allegedly exposing male genitals in a women’s spa and was eventually arrested for indecent exposure.
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