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Transgender woman
alleges discrimination at Philadelphia YMCA

Transgender woman
alleges discrimination at Philadelphia YMCA

Dawn Dalpe, a transgender woman living in South Philadelphia, has filed a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations alleging that she has been barred from all 10 regional branches of the YMCA, the Philadelphia Gay News reported Friday.

Dalpe, 38, states in her complaint that she joined the Christian Street YMCA in mid October to use the swimming pool but was barred after only three visits when executive director Michelle Stevenson demanded Dalpe's "proof of gender." When Dalpe returned with an affidavit from her doctor certifying her biological sex as female, Stevenson grabbed the paper out of her hand and told her to leave or else she would call the police.

"I was afraid I'd be harassed even more if I didn't bring in the affidavit," Dalpe told the PGN. "But when [Stevenson] grabbed it out of my hands, that was too much. I lost my composure. I didn't say anything threatening to her. But I did tell her she should be ashamed of herself for violating someone's privacy in such a rude and cavalier way."

Shortly thereafter, Dalpe received a letter informing her that she was barred from all 10 Philadelphia-area YMCA branches. Her complaint went on say that Stevenson violated her civil rights by asking for proof of her gender and that she violated a city-wide ordinance protecting transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Omoiye Kinney, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Philadelphia and vicinity, insisted Dalpe's membership was terminated due to her threatening behavior toward Stevenson, not her transgender status.

"The YMCA of Philadelphia and vicinity is open to all," Kinney said in a statement. "We don't discriminate on any basis that's covered by law." (The Advocate)

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