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KPBS Midday Edition

Protests over use of Santee YMCA locker room by trans woman part of a troubling national trend

Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
A San Diego Pride Parade attendee waves the transgender flag as parade marchers walk by, July 16, 2022.

A protest outside of the YMCA in Santee last week about who can use the facility's locker room has brought attention back to the issue of the rights of transgender people. The public outcry followed the comments at a Santee City Council meeting by a 17-year-old girl who described feeling “terrified” while sharing the locker room with a transgender woman who she misidentified as a male.

The incident has sparked national conservative media attention, and that of right-wing extremists.

USA Today correspondent Will Carless has reported on far right, and left, extremism for five years. He told KPBS Midday Edition LGBTQ hate is the far right's "flavor of the month."

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"The number one issue uniting the far right, at the moment, would be anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ issues in general, but particularly focused on things like all-age drag shows, and now, whether transgender people should be allowed to use those spaces," he said.

Carless said extremists have been using LGBTQ rights issues to stir up outrage among those who share their views. But that outrage comes with real-world consequences and danger for the LGBTQ community.

Fernando Z. Lopez, executive director of San Diego LGBT Pride, said this political polarization is driving up violence aimed at the LGBTQ, trans, and drag communities dramatically.

"(It's) to the point where the Department of Homeland Security put out a national terrorism advisory talking about the intersection of LGBTQ people being at risk, immigrants being at risk, and the anti-semitic violence putting Jewish people at risk," they said.

The trans woman at the center of the conservative media storm is Christynne Lili Wrene Wood. She told KPBS media partner 10News that she plans to speak at the Santee City Council meeting on Wednesday.

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"It's important that they finally get to hear the truth. And they finally get to put a face on this scary transgender woman who was misgendered,” she said.