(The Center Square) – A 16-year-old swimmer in Springfield says the YMCA dismissed her concerns of changing in the women’s locker room with a transgender woman present and was later ejected from the swim team.
During a news conference Thursday across the street from a YMCA facility in Springfield, Abbigail Wheeler, the 16-year-old swimmer who raised objections in late April, said she was uncomfortable changing in a locker room with a transgender woman present. Her feelings were dismissed when she approached her coach and YMCA administrators, she said.
“I was made to feel as though I was in the wrong,” Wheeler said. “I was made to feel as though there was something wrong with me feeling uncomfortable changing in the women’s locker room where biological men were being allowed to undress in the same space as me and my underage teammates.”
Christina Newton, a 42-year-old transgender member of the YMCA, was in the crowd during the news conference. Afterward, Newton told The Center Square that what was said was “racist.” Newton believed Newton and another person were possibly the individuals Wheeler was concerned about.
“We was both in our swimsuits about ready to head to the pool and we was just talking about my surgeries, that’s it,” Newton said. “We wasn’t showing people our private stuff.”
The YMCA said in a statement earlier this week that Wheeler was not banned from the facility and that her father withdrew their family’s membership.
Dan Wheeler said they did withdraw their membership and from the swim team, but only after Abbigail was suspended for objecting to trans people in the girl’s locker room.
The Springfield YMCA didn’t immediately respond to a message asking whether Abbigail was suspended from the team.
That isn’t the issue anyway, Dan Wheeler said, and neither is whether someone was exposed.
“It’s not whether a biological male is naked, whether a biological male is leering, whether a biological male has a camera out, it’s the fact that there’s a biological male in the girl’s locker room,” Wheeler said Thursday.
The Illinois Freedom Caucus took up the issue standing alongside the Wheelers on Thursday and said they will fight at the Illinois Statehouse to protect women and girls in locker rooms and in sports.
“If biological males don’t want to change in front of other biological males – then let them change by themselves in a gender-neutral bathroom,” said state Rep. Chris Miller, R-Charleston.
Despite Abbigail and others feeling unsafe, Newton said they won’t use a more private family area as Wheeler was urged by the YMCA to do.
“No, I don’t, because we are females by and wide,” Newton told The Center Square. “There’s no biological or nothing to me about it. We are females and that’s how we are.”
Newtold said they have been transitioned with surgeries for four years, but they felt like a women as early as the age of 12.
“If it is wrong to require biological males to change in front of other biological males because they are uncomfortable then why is it OK to disregard the feelings and concerns of biological women who don’t want to share their private spaces with naked men,” Miller said. “Of course, the only solution the radical left will allow is the one that forces young women to share their locker rooms with men.”
“The YMCA is an inclusive organization proudly open to all,” a spokesman for the YMCA said. “We welcome all people and do not discriminate based on ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, sex, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race, and sexual orientation.”