Jaman legal challenge has people under rainbow umbrella on edge

Posted 4/24/24

So many of us thought the worst had passed. Although the fate of the Port Townsend pool, located at Mountain View Commons and run by the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, remains under consideration, it seemed …

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Jaman legal challenge has people under rainbow umbrella on edge


So many of us thought the worst had passed. Although the fate of the Port Townsend pool, located at Mountain View Commons and run by the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, remains under consideration, it seemed that the anti-trans outburst of July 26, 2022 was behind us.

To refresh our scarred memories, PT resident Julie Jaman confronted the Y’s former trans employee, Clementine Adams, in the women’s changing room in the Mountain View pool as Adams was following YMCA “rule of three” policy that an adult must accompany a child in a group of three to any isolated areas, such as a bathroom or locker room. When Jaman heard a male voice, she screamed at Adams to get out and asked if she had a penis. After the police were called and Jaman was asked to leave, she was permanently banned from the pool.

The matter hardly ended there. An alliance between Jaman and anti-trans activist Amy Sousa resulted in interviews and press reports that made Fox News. On August 1, what appeared to be at least 100 LGBTQ+ supporters lined up outside City Hall to attend a City Council meeting at which the Council issued a proclamation in support of trans rights. A simultaneous demonstration by Jaman, Sousa, and others across the street in Pope Marine Park drew several ultra-right Proud Boys and a far larger crowd of LGBTQ-supportive counter demonstrators. Alleged violence, which could have been avoided if Port Townsend Police had kept the groups separate rather than maintaining their distance until matters got out of hand, resulted in two arrests and subsequent threats by Proud Boys of an even bigger demonstration on August 15. That second demonstration, for which local police appeared more prepared than Capitol Police were for January 6, amounted to not much at all.

Fallout, however, was widely felt. Adams left town for her own safety and others in positions of authority received multiple harrowing death threats. Even as a large segment of the community joined City Council in support of trans and LGBTQ+ rights, fear increased among many marginalized members of the community.

Now the Center for American Liberty (CAL) has issued a demand for a formal apology to Jaman, end of the ban, and $350,000 for emotional distress. The YMCA’s deadline to respond has been extended to May 6. Depending upon that response, litigation may follow.

For a legal organization, CAL’s website (libertycenter.org/cases/port-townsend-ymca-demand-letter/) plays loose with the facts. It states, “The Port Townsend City Pool—operated by the local YMCA—has a policy that allows men who identify as women to use women’s private spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms.” In fact, the YMCA has no such policy; it is legally obligated to follow state law WAC 162-320060 which states, “All covered entities shall allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and homeless or emergency shelters, that are consistent with that individual's gender expression or gender identity. In such facilities where undressing in the presence of others occurs, covered entities shall allow access to and use of a facility consistent with that individual's gender expression or gender identity.” The state does not require a facility to post signage to this effect.

CAL refuses to honor gender identity by labeling Adams a man. After dismissing state policy and community support as “radical gender ideology,” the website declares, “We cannot stay silent as the Left attacks our most basic freedoms.” If this rhetoric sounds familiar, you will not be surprised to learn that CAL founder Harmeet Kaur Dhillon was a legal adviser on the Trump 2020 campaign and campaigned to replace Ronna McDaniel as chairperson of the Republican National Committee.

Already, readers have voiced objections to the language in the Leader’s March 27 article on CAL’s demand letter. Specifically, many rightly took offense at surrounding Clementine Adams’s name with quotation marks and referring to her as “watching” two young girls — language which Jaman attorneys used in the letter — rather than “accompanying.” One trans community member has quit their job over a perceived lack of support around trans issues, and another is awaiting outcome of a court case surrounding the August 1 demonstration.

Everywhere, trans people, others under the rainbow umbrella, and their supporters are on edge. Anyone who does not understand why has clearly been playing ostrich during the new “Don’t Say Gay” era in which states and school boards alike strive to try to erase LGBTQ+ rights and identity.

What is essential right now is that we who care about self-autonomy, democracy, freedom, and equal rights for all unite and embrace each other with understanding, support, and love. We are the majority in this country. Our unity— our faith in the love that binds us together in all our rainbow multiplicity and wonder—are keys to our freedom. Healing begins when we let go of fear.


Jason Victor Serinus is the oldest member of the WA State LGBTQ Commission, a critic of culture, music, and audio. He’s also a professional whistler. Column tips: jvsaisi24@gmail.com.