The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has filed charges of indecent exposure against a transgender woman who appeared nude in the women’s area of a spa in the city of L.A.
A cisgender woman had complained about the trans woman’s presence at Wi Spa in late June, airing her objections in an Instagram video that went viral. The complainer, going by the screen name Cubana Angel, said women and girls were upset by seeing the trans woman’s genitals.
“It’s OK for a man to go into the women’s section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls — underage — in your spa?” Cubana Angel said to staffers in the video. “He’s a man! He is a man!”
Some sources were skeptical, however, that a trans woman was at the spa that day, and the Los Angeles Blade, a publication serving the LGBTQ+ community, ran a commentary piece theorizing that Cubana Angel was perpetrating a hoax, something she has denied. The incident has led to protests outside the spa, sometimes marked by violence between anti-trans and trans-supportive demonstrators.
Now Darren Agee Merager, 52, has been charged with five felony counts of indecent exposure, the Los Angeles Times reports. Merager lives in Riverside County, east of L.A. County, and is a registered sex offender. The charges were filed Monday and an arrest warrant issued, but she has not yet been taken into custody.
The Times has yet to reach Merager for an interview, but she did speak to the New York Post (which has sometimes shown anti-trans bias) and said she did nothing wrong. “Everything about the Wi Spa was a bunch of garbage and lies,” she said. She was in a hot tub when she encountered Cubana Angel, she said. “She never saw me naked,” Merager said. “I was underwater with water all the way up to my chest.”
She said she is a victim of transphobic harassment but nonetheless intends to turn herself in.
She is a registered sex offender due to convictions for indecent exposure in 2002 and 2002, Los Angeles police told the Times. She is facing further indecent exposure charges from a 2019 incident.
The Post quotes an internal L.A. police document saying Merager pretends to be trans in order to gain access to women’s spaces. The possibility of people pretending to be trans for this purpose has often been raised by those opposed to transgender rights, but almost no such incidents have been verified.