Earlier this month, Julie Jaman, an 80-year-old resident of Port Townsend, Washington, was banned from her local community pool. Her crime was to ask a man to leave the female changing room. Just moments after she told Clementine Adams to “get out of here,” she was told by YMCA aquatics manager, Rowan DeLuna, “You are discriminating and you can’t use the pool anymore and I’m calling the police.” There was no signage indicating women and girls should be prepared to encounter males in their change room, though Julie was later informed that pride posters should indicate as much.
Erin Hawkins, communications manager for the pool, claimed Julie was permanently suspended from the Mountain View pool “Due to her repeatedly violating our code of conduct, specifically using disrespectful words or gestures towards YMCA staff or others; using abusive, harassing, and/or obscene language or gestures towards YMCA staff or others.”
There is no evidence this is true.
I spoke with Julie on Monday from her home in Port Townsend. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Meghan Murphy: I’m curious to know about your life. How did you become such a difficult woman?
Julie Jaman: Well, my mother might have something to say about that! But it turns out that I seemed to have had this streak. I think there was a certain culture in my family. They were always strong activists — back to my grandparents, my great grandparents. I haven’t told anybody this, but Jack London was my great grandfather. So that may inform some of this.
When I was young, I was taken on union picket lines when unions were trying to form in the 40s. Those were pretty harsh times for people who were trying to organize. Before I graduated from university I was active in certain things. We’re talking early sixties.
There was the Vietnam issue. Then along came all the assassinations. I was registering people to vote. I was very active against the Vietnam War.
About 40 years ago, I moved to Port Townsend — a little teeny town. And I ended up being very active with assisting women in matters of domestic violence and sexual assault — providing safe havens and so on. During those years this community — the police, the sheriff agencies — finally became much more informed. We provided a lot of education, and we now have a place called the Dove House for victims of assault and violence.
It turns out it’s not just for women anymore because their forms now say “gender,” not sex. I’m interested in their demographics and stats, but have been unable to get a call back. How do they provide shelter for women and children who have most often been assaulted by men considering “gender identity”?
What do they do with men who come in claiming they are women? I just can’t even imagine it. And nobody’s talking about it. The city is not talking about it. Nobody is talking about the nitty gritty of this — the implications of allowing men into women’s dressing and shower areas.
For years, the pool was once a wonderful, joyous place. I found myself thinking: Water makes this planet sparkle. We humans play in water. We use it in ritual. Of course we need it to survive. And we dress in the most amazing minimalist costumes to get into that water together. And we have a grand time doing it, until it comes now to the showers. Now we’re in a pickle.
M: It’s interesting you say that. I’ve been a swimmer my whole life. For a long time, swimming laps was the only exercise that I did. I love swimming — I find it very meditative. It’s really amazing exercise — it’s so good for your body and it’s low impact. I don’t have access to a pool right now where I live, and it’s very sad. So I’m doing other exercise, but I share your love of the pool. What is the feeling that you’re experiencing now that you can’t go to your local community pool? How does that impact you?
J: This incident has caused me to do quite a bit of reflection on my history of being active, and in terms of turning to my own well-being, which has caused me to find other ways to increase — practically — my exercise, and find other ways to get the satisfaction and the well-being that I need, out of walking and gardening and doing a lot of firewood, and things that I’ve always [done]. But I do notice that I’m older. It is a little more difficult now, but I’m feeling good about the fact that I made a very active decision to do more of what I can do.
But I am a person of water, and I truly miss the joy of exercising at the pool. I’m very sad about that. And I find it really reprehensible that the YMCA has never contacted me. But apparently, in their professional administration, they have no means of appealing such decisions made by staffers at individual pools. Staff in this instance appeared to be very unprofessional. It’s shocking.
M: So let’s go back a little bit and talk about what happened that day at the pool. You went for a swim, and you went back to the change room…
J: Right. I was at my usual swim around 12:30PM. I’m going once a week, and swimming about a quarter mile. I got out to take my shower, get dressed, and go on with my day. I was in the shower when I heard a man’s voice. I was just stunned. The dressing room is one big room, and has maybe six or seven shower heads. But we put little shower curtains to separate them. They billow and blow. So if one wants to look and see they can, but the curtains have worked nicely.
I looked just across — on one side of this room there’s a little alcove that has two toilets — and there stood a man in a woman’s bathing suit, watching a few little girls. I can’t tell you an exact number because I was so shocked at this point. But nevertheless, here were little girls pulling down their suits in order to use the toilet. And I said to him, “Do you have a penis?” And he said, “It is none of your business.” And I said, “You need to get out of here. Right now.”
And then from the left side out of a door from a staff room came a person in a red t-shirt — clearly a staff person. I said to her, “Get him out of here.” And she said, without hesitation, “That’s discrimination. You’re out of here. No more swimming for you. I am calling the cops.” That’s the way the exchange went. Nothing like, “Julie, when you’re dressed, why don’t you come to the office, we’ll explain the new policies.” Or, “I can see that you didn’t know about our new policies and how they work,” or anything.
There’s no signage on the door. There’s been no information from the YMCA to patrons or parents who use YMCA programs. Nothing! Just, “If you are shocked by what you see, you’re discriminating.” The law the YMCA says they’re following says that if somebody objects to having penises or people who are clearly men in the women’s dressing room that person should seek an alternative if one is available. Well, the YMCA doesn’t provide an alternative at the pool. I have no choice. No signage, no choice. And now, discrimination.
The YMCA has no way to know what the intention is of men who want to go into the women’s dressing area. They could be doing anything in there. It is private in there. This seems to have no impact on the administration or this city’s leadership.
M: It’s really baffling how quickly this has become the norm — how quickly this has been accepted — and that it’s being enforced by women, on other women and girls. Women, who of all people understand — not that all males are predators — but that the people in this world who are a threat to women and girls are, by and large, men. And it sounds to me — maybe you have a better sense of this — like the YMCA aquatics manager, Rowan DeLuna, was sort of ready for a fight.
J: There’s no way to know this, but I have a sense that this was kind of a set up. To one side was a group of kids that come [to the pool] for a program — maybe they were learning about the etiquette of the pool — and there were two or three red-shirted staff people. And some staff person had to say to this man, “Take these little girls to the bathroom.” And that bathroom was in the women’s dressing room, not in the men’s. They were little girls.
Why did they send that man instead of [a female] staff person? And he was alone instead of with a second adult, which is what the YMCA policy requires with these children’s programs — that two staffers go with them. There wasn’t [another adult]. There was just a man with no staff identity of any sort. And this staffer, [Rowan DeLuna], just appeared on queue. Not questioning, “Are you okay?” Nothing. Just right out, very first thing: “That’s discrimination and you’re out of here.” …[The] timing was rather amazing, right?
M: Yeah. For her to show up and not say, “What’s going on? What happened? What are your concerns?” Or, as you say, “Let me explain…this is so and so and he works here.” Or, “These are our policies.” It almost seems like it was a test of some kind.
J: It does. What if she had said, “Let me introduce you to this woman.” (I’ve been told this man’s name is now Clementine.) So imagine that: me, naked in the shower, “Oh, hi, Clementine” (Laughter). The irony.
M: (Laughter) I know, it’s silly. It’s interesting to talk to someone like you. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this issue of gender identity and trans activism, and the impact on women and girls in particular. But it sounds like this was your first or one of your first introductions to this kind of situation — this idea that a man is allowed to access women’s spaces… Particularly spaces where women and girls are vulnerable. Is that true?
J: Absolutely. I’ve never seen it — never heard of it before. I know that in the big world there are some incidences, and they seem to be racking up in numbers. And of course I’ve received phone calls from people who know of other incidences.
Over in Port Angeles, a man and his wife were kicked out of the YMCA [for] similar reasons. This man had been a coach and a boy scout, and a he’s a coast guard employee His wife had been very active… You know, real straight people. They were just stunned at what they were seeing.
This was my very first experience, and my instincts were working. There was no hesitation on my part. There was something very unsafe going on, and I felt totally vulnerable. God, what a rude thing to do.
M: Yeah, it’s incredibly rude. I’m curious to know: you said Port Townsend is a really small town — did you know Rowan DeLuna or Clementine Adams prior to any of this?
J: Oh, no. I had no idea. I probably don’t keep up with anything anymore in the community along those lines. I mean, I write letters to the editor now and again. I have certain issues I keep up with politically, but not the social side of things. Town is full of every kind of make and model. And it is a wonderful place to walk around and see everybody decked out the way they are decked out. It’s terrific to go have coffee downtown sometimes. I love it. But this thing — the privacy, the safety, the dignity of people. Oh no, no.
M: It’s interesting because often this kind of thing is framed as exclusive, or as though it’s in opposition to diversity, or in opposition to LGBTQ people, which is all lumped in [together]… I’m curious to know, did you know much about this debate before all this happened to you at the pool? Were you aware of trans activism and gender identity ideology and this fight between women and people who want to protect women’s spaces versus people who believe in this idea that a man can identify as a woman and that therefore they should legally count as female?
J: Well, of course I’d never read the RCW’s the WAC. I didn’t know anything about the human rights commission in this state, which was by the way, the source of the code.
M: What is that?
J: The Washington State Human Rights Commission is the commission that approved the code that is the WAC that the YMCA refers to when they say they are following the law replacing sex with “gender.” It essentially eliminated sex as an identity. That’s what the law did in Washington state. The implications of that for women are huge.
I was aware and have participated in some amount of conversation over what’s been happening in schools, and was shocked at media news reports of young children being encouraged by their parents to take hormones that will affect their physical growth… And to the point of teenagers having operations on their bodies — amputating — and shocking social projects of some sort… Big Pharma, big money, things that are imposing themselves into families and onto children… To me, it is like an internal genocide of some sort. We are mutilating our children. It is beyond belief that homosapiens have become perverse toward their children. It’s just breathtaking.
M: It is it’s appalling. These kids’ lives are being ruined. To me, it’s like, where are the adults in the room? Because it’s adults that are doing this to kids, and in many cases, it’s parents who are doing it to their kids.
J: It so far away from what feminists and activists fought for all of my life — for rights, abortion rights, our right to make choices about our bodies… Then comes along this pandemic, and again, our choice is taken away. It’s just nonstop invasion [of our right to] control our own bodies and make choices about your body. It defies the common sense of a society that I would choose to live in.
M: It really does. And, that reality becomes even more stark when when we talk to and hear from women like you who’ve been engaged in feminist activism — activism for women’s rights, human rights, civil rights — for so long. I learned about feminism from second wave women. And I feel lucky for that because a lot of young women — women younger than me, but also women my age — grew up and learned about feminism within the context of third wave feminism. I don’t know if you know much about third wave feminism, but essentially within the past 15-20 years feminism has stopped focusing on women and women’s rights.
J: Yes. So we could look at the very big picture. Most people don’t even want to get into this, but: who is in charge in this country, and what’s the agenda. And of course the global agenda. I have read theories offered by people representing the Davos group, the Great Reset, and so on.
J: What a fellow named Harari (and others) are offering is that the globe has become overpopulated. And there are lots — by the millions and billions — of expendable people. And that this is just a logical outcome of limited resources. We don’t really need all these people because we’re moving into a 21st century time of artificial intelligence, so we just don’t have a need for all those workers… slaves. And essentially, they’re saying they’re expendable. And in my reading of that, I can imagine that females — who in fact give birth to people and the populations — are therefore expendable.
Look at this in the context of this social experiment in gender identity wherein men get to move into what was once women’s space — private and safe — on the basis of inclusion, equality, etc. In fact it is a kind of action that is eliminating both the social and physiological needs of the female human.
M: And it’s interesting because it sort of all happened around the same time — around 2015, 2016 — and without real public consultation.
I just looked up the Washington State Human Rights Commission. The frequently asked questions regarding WAC and gender-segregated facilities says:
“The final rules covering a variety of issues related to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, non-discrimination went into effect in December 2015. The rules include a provision that transgender individuals cannot be required to use a gender-segregated facility that is inconsistent with their gender identity. The rules do not give protections to anyone who accesses gender segregated facilities under false pretense.”
But, of course, how would you know? What is the false pretense?
J: How do they know, when a man comes into the pool and pays to swim and says, “I’m a woman” (he doesn’t have to say anything, I don’t think, but nevertheless) and enters into the women’s locker room, what happens in there? The YMCA has no way to know. What is their liability about what happens in there?
WAC, which I’m looking at, says, “Concern or discomfort about a person who uses a facility that is consistent with the person’s gender expression or gender identity…” That person — me, expressing discomfort — should be directed to a separate or gender-neutral facility if available. And if none is available? Either you go in and change with men, or you don’t get to go swimming.
M: And as you say, that’s not a choice. They’re not offering you a choice. So they’re essentially telling women and girls: you have to deal with this, or you have to leave.
J: And no signage either, by the way. When I called Wendy Bart, the CEO of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA, she told me she “assumes” that Pride posters are adequate information for women to know what to expect.
M: That’s interesting actually. It’s completely unreasonable, because you need to be much more specific if you’re going to be telling women, “Hey, just so you know, there might be men in your change room.” You can’t just put up a Pride poster and act as though that communicates something that specific.
I find it really interesting that they’re actually admitting that the Pride symbol now symbolizes gender identity ideology. I don’t know if they realize that they’re doing this, or if they don’t care, but they’re saying out loud that what “Pride” and the Pride flag symbolizes and communicates is that men can be women— this is our religion, and you have to go along with it or you have to leave.
J: That’s exactly right. When this happened, which was on July 26th, I came home and thought about it, and it didn’t take me long to realize I was going to do something. And what I did was I created a sign that said, “Men who are identifying as women are using the women’s shower dressing room.” And I created a petition asking the city and the YMCA to provide alternative spaces, to provide signage, and to inform patrons and parents of what to expect. I then went to city council and asked for them to get professional training. So I went down the next Monday, August 1st, with my picket sign, and there were already four people dressed in rainbows there. They were going in and out of the pool.
The police department is right next to the gym where the pool is. I was standing at a corner, quietly. I just wanted people to sign my petition. I wanted patrons of the pool to know what was going on. That’s all.
The next day I went back, and there was a very large crowd. I committed to two hours each day — I was going to do it for a week — but only did it for two days. A very large crowd of people — again, all decked out in this rainbow bannering — were heckling loudly. They were going in and out of the pool entrance area, which was decked out in banners and flags and rainbows.
This place had become headquarters for this transgender group.
This pool belongs to the school district. It’s leased by the City and it’s managed by the YMCA — the Young Men’s Christian Association. And yet it had been converted into the headquarters for this movement. Who allowed that? I mean, we pay for that. That’s our pool. And yet this ideology seems to have had inveigled it’s way into the YMCA.
One might want to stand back and say, “What earth is going on with the YMCA?” I have received calls that there are things going on within this very large Christian nonprofit organization with very deep pockets.
I bet a lot of people are stunned to find out about my experience — I know they are because I have received endless phone calls and emails and support from all over the United States. But at any rate, here’s this ideology, which is now a very big part of what they’re pushing.
M: Yeah. It’s amazing how successful this movement – this ideology, these activists — have been in taking over almost all of our institutions.
I want to talk about what happened after you were kicked out of the pool. What steps did you take after that happened?
J: Well, the first two days I made my picket sign and I made my little petitions. Just me by myself. I wasn’t looking to organize or anything. I was just being me. On August 1st, a Monday, [there was] also was City Council meeting. I sent a letter to the City Council describing specifically what happened to me.
And, to reiterate: I was in a shower, naked, in a single room where we dress and shower, and there was a man in a women’s bathing suit, watching girls. The story has been converted into bathrooms and all kinds of things… But at any rate, that evening on August 1st, I went to City Council to make comment. We are allowed three minutes. There were a lot of people there, which is unlike the City Council, as, for many people in this community, it is not very effective anymore.
I I told them what had happened to me. I reminded them I had sent them a long letter with the description in it. And I specifically requested that they take certain steps. That the city manager and the YMCA CEO get professional training to gain much more sensitive skills, in order to handle this incredible situation. Also that the YMCA put up very clear signage and inform parents of what to expect. And that the city get together with others in the community — stakeholders and intelligent and wise adults — to help refine their policies. Because obviously the things are not working well. Those were the kinds of things I asked for.
My three minutes was up and the Council chambers erupted into applause, and I turned around and this room was filled with people applauding me. I was just so taken aback. I had no idea. And the Mayor was pounding on his gavel, saying “We don’t allow… You can’t act out… You’ll be eliminated from the room…” So on and so forth. There were lots of accusations toward me of bigotry and transphobia, but it was clear to any elected council person they had a big issue on their hands.
I went away and spent a week getting familiar with people from all over the country. After that, Amy Sousa called me, and asked if I would come to a gathering — a press conference — and asked if I would speak at the press release. I said, “Of course.” I had decided once I started getting calls that I would speak with anybody. I don’t care what their persuasion was. I would speak with anybody about what I experienced. And so of course, lots of sides to lots of political positions have called me and talk with me.
So on August 15th, at about 5PM, I went with my daughter to Pope Marine Park, right across from City Hall. And there were lots — maybe hundreds — of people lined up in front of City Hall with banners and Pride stuff. It was amazing.
I walked over to the park and the group there was also growing. I don’t know how large it got — maybe a hundred people. Amy opened up at 5:30, welcoming people. It became apparent that there was going to be some noise coming from this group across the street, who were blocking access to the City Council chambers, meaning that anybody that wanted to go to the 6:30 meeting had to go upstairs and sign in. The trans activists had completely blocked that all up. There was no one but them at the City Council making comment.
In the meantime, Amy had invited me to come up and speak. When I got up to the microphone, all these people — hundreds of people — came in from all sides at like kettling. They created the most ear-splitting cacophony. It was impossible to hear anything. And it never ended. It was incredibly jarring — the sound of this thing.
While that was going on, 10 or 15 people on bicycles were riding right through the middle, knocking into me and other people.
There were maybe 10 police in uniform across the street by City Hall just watching. Really big, tattooed men were weaving in and out of our group, pushing and shoving people around. As this went on, I got the feeling that some of these men were acting like provocateurs. They were trying to get into fights with people.
It turned out that those who came to hear what speakers had to say were not unfamiliar with this kind of behavior. People there that linked arms, helping to shield me… I was being shoved around. Women were shoved to the ground. Things were stolen. They tried to sabotage the speaker system. Finally, when I was on the microphone, I asked, “Please go get the police — get some help.”
I was told later that people went across the street and that Chief of Police Olsen told them that they were simply following directives that they had received, meaning that the City Manager had sent out directives to stand down — to not come across the street or to help us, even though they could see what was happening. So that is a very interesting aspect of this.
Finally the police and the highway patrol came across and they began arresting two or three people. They made a cordon so that I could be escorted away safely.
I passed Chief Olsen and approached him. I had been trying for over the week to get a hold of somebody at the police department, but they never returned my call. I asked him how I could get a correction on a report. And he said, “Why don’t you come to my office tomorrow at 8AM?” And I said, “Your office doors do not open until 10AM. Olsen said, “Well, come at 10.” And I said, “Okay, I will.”
So I did. And I was told by the person at the front desk, “Chief Olsen isn’t here. He’s on two days of vacation — personal time.” I said, “But he invited me here.” She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry — here’s his cell phone number.” I returned home that day and did in fact receive a call from him hours later. We had a long conversation. I said I was very concerned about the bicycles. He said that from across the street he could see a passage for them to get through our group.
I said, “But Chief Olsen, you would never allow bicycle riders on the sidewalks of Port Townsend like that. Why were you allowing that to happen?” He repeated himself then finally said, “We had directives — we thought everybody should have the right to free speech. Everybody there has the right to express themselves.” But that’s not what was going on — we were being attacked. He said, “Well, I didn’t have enough men. I don’t have enough money. I didn’t have enough time to plan…”
So, my belief is that the City Manager is very savvy about PR. I believe he is very much managing this incident, and how it appears to the public. He had a meeting with a few City Council people and the police and told them he had documentation of multiple infractions [committed by me].
Since the day I was told to leave the pool the charges against me have grown and grown. I have been accused of using vulgar language, of verbal abuse, of touching patrons, of screaming at patrons and staff, of abusing staff… Endless accusations have been made, I believe, by the pool manager, Rowan DeLuna. She is a whole other story that people are pursuing… it’s a story.
On August 15th, the police were all over at city hall to protect the trans activists while across the street, they were in fact attacking and abusing and assaulting us. This is the reality. That was on August 15th. The flipping of reality is what I experienced that day.
M: I mean, people are simply not doing their jobs, and it sounds like this is a political and ideological situation. I was just reading about the mayor of Port Townsend today. And it sounds like his political inclinations — his ideologies — might be having a notable impact on what’s going on with this situation and how it’s being dealt with. What do you know about the Mayor?
J: I only know the things people have sent me of his Twitter comments and responses. When I went to the Council, the Mayor and the City Manager both used their positions to lecture the people in the room [on] being, “homophobic and discriminating,” saying “Transgender people have rights, and we’re all behind them.” That kind of thing. They had no inclination to identify that there was a problem, that maybe the City Council should get together a committee to review policies and staff training.
And then on the 15th, the Manager introduces a proclamation saying, “The City of Port Townsend values our transgender residents and visitors, and urges all residents and visitors to be respectful, welcoming, and kind to everybody, everyone, regardless of gender identity.” And further, “The mayor proclaims that discrimination and prejudice in any form — particularly against transgender people — are unwelcome and have no place in the city of Port Townsend.”
That was what they voted on on August 15th while we were being attacked. So that’s our City Council and our Mayor. And I gather he is, at least in his Twitter remarks, sounding infantile. He does not sound like an adult leader. I just can’t believe this is what is running this town.
M: Yeah. I don’t follow Twitter super closely either. I was actually banned from Twitter permanently in 2018 for saying that men aren’t women. I do know that the Mayor came out in pretty vocal support of the protesters and in opposition to you and the women who were supporting you.
M: What’s next for you? Do you have anything planned in terms of actions? This is about your fight to regain access to your community pool, but is also the fight for women’s rights and women and girls’ spaces. And a fight for reality and to be able to speak about reality.
J: Attorneys are involved. I have an attorney who has written to the City Council. My biggest issue is I’d like to see the documentation of all these accusations against me. I realize it’s possible to create fraudulent documents, but I am asking for the documentation. I haven’t asked personally, but others have asked that I be reinstated. It would be nice to get an apology. They failed miserably as professionals with such an important responsibility — it’s a public pool… It is just stunning.
The YMCA has doubled down. I’m under the impression they have deep pockets, and a lot of backing. I’m guessing it’s not an isolated event — it’s happening in states that have passed these kinds of laws. Therefore, they are likely preparing for legal battles. I have personally received tremendous amounts of support from around the country, and offers of a lot of legal assistance.
Of course, the Christian right has taken hold of this, and I can understand why. But I am not an ideologue, and I do not represent any kind of ideology. I represent myself and my experience. I know that female humans — women — have the right to safety and privacy in dressing and shower areas. And for me, nothing less is acceptable.
M: Thank you so much for talking with me. I really appreciate your time. I really enjoyed talking with you. I really appreciate your forthrightness and your courage. I hope that we can talk again or meet someday!
J: Surely! If you ever get to Port Townsend, maybe you’ll want to go swimming. You can have an experience. (Laughter.)
Thank you so much, Meghan.