The Wi Spa is one of several Korean spas in the Koreatown neighborhood. Traditionally, whole families attend the spa together, with children in tow, and with men and women using separate sections, where there are hot tubs and saunas.
In June, a woman confronted staff at the Wi Spa after a transgender woman was allowed into the woman's side: “It's okay for a man to go into the women's section, show his penis around the other women, young little girls underage,” she said.
Last week, black-clad Antifa activists assaulted protesters who were demonstrating against allowing transgender women into the women's side. The spa claims that it must do so in compliance with current California anti-discrimination law.
The Los Angeles Times sided this week with the activists, saying that while it had empathy for women who had been victims of sexual assault, or religious people who might themselves feel marginalized, people had to accept discomfort:
There is no doubt that Wi Spa did the right thing in defending the right of a transgender customer to be nude in the women's area, even though the sight of male-appearing genitalia discomfited at least one female customer, who complained at the front desk. As a public-serving business, Wi Spa had to follow California law forbidding discrimination against transgender people.
At the same time, that doesn't make everyone who feels uncomfortable in such scenarios a bigot. There are women who have been through personal experiences such as sexual assault who might find such a situation intimidating. It could go against the convictions and traditions of observant Muslims and Jews, who have a conservative or orthodox interpretation of gender norms and might themselves feel marginalized for their traditionalist beliefs. Right now, entrepreneurs may not create businesses solely for those who don't want to be exposed to transgenderism; those businesses, too, would have to follow anti-discrimination laws.
As complicated as the opposing beliefs might be, it is clear where the rights in this matter land. Everyone — transgender customers, members of every faith and women who are upset by the sight of penises — has the right to use the spa and other public accommodations. It just happens that in this case, the public accommodation also includes nudity.
But no one has an absolute right to feel comfortable all the time. People have a right to use the spa, but that doesn't include with it a guarantee that they all will feel at ease with everything they see. They might prefer a spa where a certain amount of body covering is required.
The Times editorial did not address the issue of children's potential exposure to genitalia of the opposite biological sex. Nor did it address the rights of members of the Korean community to enjoy a cultural practice as they have for decades.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new novel, Joubert Park, tells the story of a Jewish family in South Africa at the dawn of the apartheid era. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, recounts the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.