The latest right wing news firestorm is now centered on Port Townsend. Recently, an “80 year old grandma” named Julie Jaman was banned for life from the Mountain View swimming pool because she was outraged that a trans person was in the locker room with young children. But the story is way more complex than it sounds at first glance. Of course it involved right wing “outrage” and hate blog sharks swimming in to capitalize and spread fear.
The trans person was a staff member who was apparently escorting the kids through the locker room/shower. Jaman read evil intention into this benign situation. Her reported comment to the staff member, asking if they “have a penis” was itself inappropriate under any circumstance. If Jaman had an issue she might have simply dealt with the management of the pool, rather than blow up at the staffer and take the issue to the police. Instead, according to Y staff, she blew up at the staff and management, shouting invectives that are not worth repeating here in print. The police did write down her accusations but took no real action other than talking to the pool management.
The issue then was escalated by the right wing “PT Free Press” a news blog that has in the past called out the local non-profit public radio station KPTZ as being “biased” for simply running “Democracy Now”, and receiving a $10,000 grant from the County Council to help staff a news person to report on county activities. No mention by this right wing blogger of all the variety of public interest information that the station contributes to the community, only that in his mind, this grant was somehow illegal and indicative of coercion by the elected officials . The station routinely instructs to keep all personal opinions off the air or expect to have counter points of view on as well.
Dori Munson, the right wing radio talk show host in Seattle went on air to vent his outrage, but failed to mention that Jaman had verbally abused the person and the staff, which led to her being banned forever from the pool. It was not because she had an issue with the trans staffer. Nor did he mention her history of being verbally abusive with the pool staff which was mentioned in the PT Free Press.
Laura Ingram, a right wing tv personality also picked the story up with suitable outrage.
Angry citizens also vented their rage at the Port Townsend City Council for their not “doing something” about this. It appears non of these people have read state law for employers. Twitter went alight with outraged tweets from all over the world.
Wendy Bart, the CEO of the Y reminded people that the Y is by state law, required to provide a safe and inclusive environment.
Our Code of Conduct policy states: “At the Y, we strive to provide an atmosphere free from: discrimination, hatred, derogatory or unwelcome comments, intimidation, conduct or actions of sexual nature, or actions based on an individual’s sex, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legal protected status.” Anyone violating this Code of Conduct may have their membership revoked.
The safety and well-being of children in our care always has been and always will be a top priority. We are committed to providing a safe environment for every person in our programs, most importantly children who are entrusted to our care. We have a series of measures in place to keep kids safe including background checks for staff; training for child abuse prevention, recognition and response; and ensuring that staff are not alone with a child at any point in time.
As a community-based nonprofit organization, we are committed to reflecting the diverse communities we serve, and to providing a safe, inclusive environment for all. Since 2016, when WAC 162-32-060 went into effect, we have operated in accordance with the law which gives people the right to access the locker rooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
I want to thank you for your support as these policies keep all Y members safe, and so that we can be an organization that is welcoming and inclusive for all.
Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns.
Chief Executive Officer
The Free Press went on to publish the name of the employee, which of course led hate groups on the Internet to come to the attack, threatening the staffer.
Finally, after two weeks of silence on the issue, the local weekly newspaper and the Port Angeles Daily newspaper both published very fair and balanced reporting on the issue. Unfortunately, too late to help quash the right wing quacks on Twitter. It appears that the search of the ex-President’s compound has moved this off the main radar of right wing outrage. We are all still holding our breath that no nut job is going to attempt to harm the Y or any of it’s staff. Given the situation in Cincinnati last week, anything might happen and we hope that our tiny police force is taking these threats seriously.
There is no doubt that if Ms. Jaman wants to be outraged at seeing a trans person in the locker room, she will be. However, there were many ways that she could have handled this without creating a major incident and then claiming she was the injured party. I ran into a local Democratic politician at the county fair over the weekend and when I mentioned Ms Jaman, the response was a heavy rolling of the eyes. Ms. Jaman is well known by those of us who attend Democratic meetings. Yes, she has attended them over the years. The assumption has been she has been a Democrat, as she claims. Whether she will be welcome back to those meetings remains to be seen.
It is worth noting that in Germany, (and likely other first world European countries) public swimming pools have uni-sex changing rooms and showers.
Port Townsend has always had a reputation of being inclusive to a wide range of people’s points of view. Our town motto has been enshrined on bumper stickers for decades. “We are all here because we are not all there.” Ms. Jaman and her supporters have suitably demonstrated that.
20 or so years ago, I had an incident at the pool. The management had quit, and only lifeguards showed up to the pool for their shifts. One of the women in the water aerobics was unhappy about young kids staring at her while she showered and dressed, which happened every day because water aerobics and the mommy and me programs were back to back. In this management-less opportunity, she pressured one of the lifeguards into putting up signs that said “5 year and older children must go to their gender specific dressing room.” Which basically meant that a 5 year old boy would have to go into the mens dressing room alone. The mens dressing room has 2 exits. Well, I saw that sign, and marched over to the city, and personally handed over a letter to the city attorney saying that if they did not take that signage down by the end of the day I would hire an attorney the next day and force the issue. By the next day the signs were down, and eventually privacy curtains went up in the womens locker room for the few women who could not handle the curious eyes of young children. And still, even with the accommodations, here again, 20 years later, they are not happy. I never understood why they didn’t just put on a robe, drive home and dress/undress in the privacy of their own home.
yes sometimes most absurdly simple solutions never seem to cross a persons mind. having lived in Europe I can tell you that no one there cares about everybody changing in the same dressing rooms. they have privacy rooms for actually changing but the showers are all for everybody. we are so hung up on seeing naked bodies in this country it’s just truly sad.
I’ll add a comment about the threats. They started BEFORE the first protest on Aug 1, so were probably local. After the PT Free Press article was distributed and picked up by dozens of right-wing blogs, often word for word and photo for photo, the threats came from far and wide. They included threats against the Y, Y staff, and our mayor. These are essentially threats of terrorism, using the definition that terrorism is a deliberate attack on civilians. I’ll call it performative terrorism, because they all know the real issue is state law, not city law or Y policy, yet they target the latter two. I’m thankful the city council rallied to support the Y and the LGBTQ community. Now let’s get that pool open!
Thanks Al for writing this, I was unaware it had been taken so far. Julie Jaman is not an unknown in this town. She and people who are aligned with her present a danger to our society, not just in PT, but nationally as well. Thanks again.
The irony here is that Julie Jaman actually wrote an editorial in the PT Leader against the Y taking over the management of the pool, as it would lead to more “rooms” being built. You really cannot make this…stuff…up.
Thank you for your report. It was glorious in City Council Chambers last night.
In this sentence
We are all still holding our breath that no nut job is going to attempt to harm the Y or any of it’s staff.
“it’s” should be “its.”
We all do it. Our computers do it for us. Sometimes we catch it, sometimes we don’t.
The Y is required to provide a safe and inclusive environment. It seems to me that should include all of the women who have been abused and are not ready for male genitilia in a situation in a situation where they feel vulnerable.
There was no mention of “male genitilia” ever being shown to anyone in this situation. Julie asked the person in the bathing suit whether “he/she” had a penis. The staffer never took off his suit. Please read the various articles in the real press about this.
There was never a mention that the staffer ever removed their swimsuit. The assumption was that they were fully clothed at all times, helping the children as needed get themselves showered and dressed, meaning in my opinion, simply being present and overseeing that no one else intervened. That is what staff are for. All news reports and staff mentioned that Julie asked the question of whether the staffer had a penis or not. She never saw one.
Thank you for the incisive reporting on Julie Jaman. I have watched her irresponsible, self-promoting public activity in our community for 25 years now. Good to know that she is being kept away from children at the Y.
If you have ever worked in a clinic or school, you might know no one ever is in a room with a child undressing. No person. There are always two people hopefully one a parent, when it is very necessary, and child safety is the issue. Period. I’m as lefty as anyone in PT. It’s not lefty or righty that’s the issue, it’s child safety. Also study up on the aging brain and filters. Just saying.
Well-done piece. Because of these right-wing crackpots, we’ve missed two weeks of therapeutic swimming.
And the parents missed two weeks of child care at the summer camp. I would hope someone sued her for these losses.
I lived in Port Townsend for 40 years, and Julie Jamal has had many, many axes to grind in that time! So sorry the Y had to deal with that.
thanks for sharing. amazing.