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She was only trying to use the woman’s shower at her local YMCA, but Christynne Lili Wrene Wood has found herself mired in controversy. The Black trans woman from San Diego has been dogged by attention following a complaint from a 17-year-old YMCA consumer that Wood used the women’s locker room.

Wood, 66, started transitioning in 2016. She is a regular at the YMCA, and credits the gym with helping her lose post-Covid weight. 

Wood does not know the young woman who made the complaint to the Santee, California, city council. She only learned about the situation when friends from the YMCA called to check on her. 

According to Wood, “I picked up my little doggy. I gave him the biggest hug and people, my aqua sisters, including my instructors, came out of the woodwork and said, ‘we love you, we support you, what can we do for you?’”

Black trans woman mired in controversy for using shower at YMCA

The Black trans community has long been the focus of hatred and bigotry. In 2021, over 50 trans people were killed, most of whom were Black and Brown.

Meanwhile, California’s laws are much more trans-inclusive than policies in other states. According to the law, the YMCA allows consumers to use facilities that align with their gender identity.

The YMCA noted it also provides gender-neutral restrooms in accordance with California business laws. Such restrooms include private showers. 

According to Shelly Mctighe-Rippengale, executive VP for the YMCA of San Diego county, “There are options for people, all people, based on their personal preference and their need for privacy, desire for privacy.” The YMCA is now looking for ways to provide even more privacy for its consumers following the controversy. 

Protests and counter protests have taken place since the incident. While bigots have erroneously quoted cherry-picked passages from the New Testament, Wood has attended “dance protests” nearby, organized by former congressional candidate Jose Cortez. 

Wood herself comes from a long line of advocates. According to Wood, “My great aunt and uncle and my grandparents marched with Dr. King.”

Of her supporters, Wood said, “You’re the people we truly love. And you’re the next generation to make those Neanderthals irrelevant.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...