Tasmanian newspaper publish false claim about trans bathroom use

Tasmania’s The Examiner newspaper has backtracked on a recent letter to the editor that made claims about an “adult male” entering the change rooms at Launceston’s Aquatic Centre and undressing in front of children.

Trigger Warning: This story has details of claims about people who are transgender which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

A woman wrote-in to the newspaper claiming that she had been in the change room, which was also being used by many young girls, when a man walked in and began undressing in front of the youths. The woman claimed another man, the father of one of the young girls, had subsequently come into the change rooms and forcibly removed the man from the space.

The author of the letter said she had approached the Aquatic Centre’s staff, but they had shrugged off her concerns, saying they could nothing because the man in question identifies as a female. She then shared her view that the centre needed to install separate facilities for people who “identify” as being different gender to the sex they were assigned at birth.

The City of Launceston responded to the letter saying the claim had “no basis in fact” and that “no such incident has occurred at the facility”. The City of Launceston said it was regrettable that the newspaper had made no attempt to verify if the claim was true before publishing the letter.

The newspaper has subsequently deleted the letter off its website and issued a retraction. The Examiner said they publish letters to the editor “in good faith” but they had been misled on this occasion.

The false claim follows on from a tiny protest outside the Hobart Aquatic Centre where people complained about the facility allowing transgender women to change in the female changerooms. Equality Tasmania noted the policy has been in place for several years without any complaints being raised.

Late last month City of Hobart councilor Louise Elliot proposed that the council should create a third set of change rooms and bathrooms in all public buildings that could be used by people of both genders.

Councilor Elliot said the “vast majority” of transgender and gender-diverse people were “very decent people” but said action needed to be taken because some women didn’t “feel safe” sharing a facility with “biological men”.

In a heated debate Elliot was accused by one of her colleagues of “dog whistling” to draw up support from anti-transgender activists, while another councilor labeled her “a clown”.  The proposal was rejected by the council.

OIP Staff

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