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Trans Woman Will Go to Trial on Charges of Indecent Exposure at L.A. Spa

Trans Woman Will Go to Trial on Charges of Indecent Exposure at L.A. Spa

Gavel and spa

Darren Merager's attorney had moved for dismissal, but a judge ruled the evidence was sufficient to merit a trial.

The trial of a transgender woman accused of indecent exposure at a spa in Los Angeles can go forward, a judge ruled last week.

Darren Merager is charged with five felony counts of indecent exposure stemming from an incident in the women’s section of Wi Spa in June 2021.

At a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, witnesses testified Merager went around the spa with her genitalia exposed “with a nonchalance that they found unnerving,” Los Angeles Magazinereports.

A woman identified by the magazine only as Claudia said Merager’s penis was erect, something that caused her to fear for daughters’ safety. Others said her penis was partially erect or not erect at all.

Merager’s attorney called for dismissal of the charges, but Judge Lana S. Kim ruled that the testimony about an erection was evidence that the trial should go ahead, according to the magazine. She said the spa’s antidiscrimination policy, which includes gender identity, “was not an affirmative defense.”

Merager disputed the testimony, noting that an erection was not mentioned in the videos that went viral shortly after the incident. “Every single one of these witnesses that get up on the stand decided it’s an erection a month later. Where are my witnesses?” she told Los AngelesMagazine. “Why weren’t the two dozen women in the spa indecently exposed? Only men can be indecently exposed, but women can’t? Only the penis is indecent.”

Witnesses who were absent from the hearing included two who had filed police reports regarding the incident. They were identified only by their first names, Yvette and Christina. The latter is known by the Instagram handle Cubana Angel. She posted a video about Merager’s presence in the women's section of the spa and commented, “There ain’t no such thing as transgender.”

Some sources were skeptical of the complaints about Merager. The Los Angeles Blade, a publication serving the LGBTQ+ community, ran a commentary piece wondering if there was indeed a trans woman at the spa that day and further theorizing that Cubana Angel was perpetrating a hoax, something she has denied. Ultimately, in September 2021, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office brought charges against Merager.

The accusations against Merager led to protests outside the spa, sometimes marked by violence between anti-trans and trans-supportive demonstrators.

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