In a recent incident at the Springfield YMCA, sixteen-year-old Abigail Wheeler found herself at odds with the facility’s policy regarding transgender individuals in the girls’ locker room.
Concerned about the presence of biological males who identify as transgender women, Wheeler spoke up to her swim coach, hoping for a resolution. However, instead of being heard, she was accused of “hate speech.”
Wheeler’s father, who shared the incident on a podcast, revealed that when his daughter entered the girls’ locker room last April, she encountered two biological males. Alarmed by this situation, she reported it to the head swim coach, Alex Totura.
Unfortunately, Totura informed her that there was nothing he could do about it. Even when parents raised their concerns at a monthly meeting, the local branch’s CEO, Angie Sowle, reiterated that they could not address the presence of transgender individuals in the girls’ changing areas.
Parents’ requests for the YMCA to designate private bathrooms for transgender individuals and to send out an email clarifying the policy to the swim team were denied, according to Wheeler’s father. Frustrated by the lack of action, Wheeler hung protest signs in the female-only areas along with another teammate.
The signs read “Women’s Rights,” “Biological Women Only,” and “Safe Sport.”
The incident took an unexpected turn when Wheeler informed her coach about the signs she had made. Rather than addressing her concerns, the coach allegedly accused her of “hate speech.” According to the girl’s father, she was prohibited from participating in the swim team and asked to leave the pool area as punishment for her actions.
16-yo girl banned from YMCA and kicked off her swim team for opposing a naked male in their locker room.
And to make matters worse, her older sister had to go through the exact same thing with Lia Thomas. But it's "not really happening"….https://t.co/3cxtf6oldS
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) July 9, 2023
This incident has further fueled debate about the impact of allowing biological males to compete against females and sharing a locker room with them. However, the head coach and the YMCA have not yet commented on the matter as the Springfield YMCA denied claims that Wheeler was removed from the team.
“The statement that the swimmer was removed from the Y and prevented from participating on the swim team is false,” a spokesperson for the organization stated. According to the spokesperson, the young girl left voluntarily.
This incident is not isolated. Last month, the YMCA branch was accused of exposing girls to naked men in the locker room.
However, the YMCA denied the allegations, claiming that they prioritize the protection of children. In the same breath, the organization declared its commitment to inclusivity, citing Illinois law, which permits transgender individuals to use restrooms corresponding to the gender they claim to be.