Sauna policy discriminates against transgender people

Sauna [photo: Ulrike Leone]

A while ago I heard about a sauna where they apparently don't know what to do with transgender people. In this sauna, the policy applies that “women” may wear a bikini, panties or top and “men” may only wear a towel. In this sauna they base gender on the legal sex of the customer. So, the letter in the passport. Inquiry showed that binders are not allowed in this sauna.

To start with, I find it strange that a sauna has different rules for people with an M in their passport (“men”) than for people with a F in their passport (“women”). Just do as most saunas do: either you have a no clothing policy or a clothing policy. But this “no clothes for men, but clothes for women” policy is strange. Also for a gay sauna.

If we apply this clothing policy consistently, it will lead to the following absurd situation: trans men who still have a F in their passport are allowed to wear a top (luckily there are binders that look like a top). But trans men who already have an M in their passport are no longer allowed to wear a top. While the criterion should be whether or not someone has breasts, if we were to follow the intention of this sauna policy.

Only one conclusion is possible here: the owners of this sauna have no clue! As is often the case, unfamiliarity leads to inadequate policy, which in turn leads to unnecessary exclusion of people. In other words, discrimination.

I hope that some trans man has the courage (and the energy) to bring this up to the relevant sauna. Often people need to experience a transgender before they understand that transgender people really fall between the cracks in this kind of short-sighted policy.
If the sauna then still doesn't want to listen, this trans man can report discrimination to Transgender Network Netherlands. Or, of course, directly go to the College for Human Rights!


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