- A Washington State spa’s women-only policy has been challenged and deemed discriminatory under the state’s antidiscrimination laws.
- Haven Wilvich, a transgender woman, filed a complaint against Olympus Spa, a women-only spa, for not allowing her to enter due to her physical sex.
- Olympus Spa, which maintains that modesty and women’s privacy is a core tenet of their business, argued that the rule is tied to Korean cultural traditions and to prevent potential sexual harassment.
- Despite allowing post-operative transgender women to enter, the spa’s policy was deemed discriminatory by the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
- This case adds to an ongoing debate over the intersection of gender identity and women’s spaces.
A Washington state spa’s policy that restricts access to biological females only has been the center of a contentious court case.
The Olympus Spa’s women-only rule has been declared discriminatory under the state’s antidiscrimination laws, causing uproar among critics who argue it infringes on women’s rights to privacy and safety.
In 2020, Haven Wilvich, a man who identifies as female, filed a complaint against Olympus Spa for denying her entry based on her physical sex. The spa, with two locations in the Seattle area, requires female nudity for certain procedures and does not allow men to enter.
The spa’s decision to exclude biological males was not a random choice. Based on Christian beliefs and cultural norms, the staff maintained that women deserve privacy when they are unclothed or undergoing treatment. The spa owners and employees believe that both men and women should not see each other naked outside of marriage.
Despite the spa offering accommodation for post-operative transgender women, the Washington State Human Rights Commission was not moved by this compromise. They found the spa’s policy to be discriminatory based on gender identity.
In response, Olympus Spa defended its policy by highlighting the cultural underpinnings of their services, which are tied to the Korean tradition known as ‘jjimjilbang’. They stressed that nudity and women-only spaces are integral to their ‘seshin’ services. The spa also cited concerns about potential sexual harassment as a reason for their policy.
In the end, Olympus Spa decided to settle with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. However, they later launched a lawsuit claiming that the enforcement of the state’s antidiscrimination laws violated their First Amendment rights. This claim was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein.