Furious protestors staged a demonstration outside a Los Angeles spa after a customer recorded herself screaming at staff for not being transphobic.
The woman can be heard interrogating an employee on why they were allowing trans people to use the spa. She also repeatedly misgendered the customer, claiming cis women visiting the premises were “highly offended”.
“There is no such thing as transgender,” the woman can be heard shouting at a bystander who pointed out that the person she spoke of was actually a woman.
“I’m a woman who knows how to stand up and speak up for my rights. As a woman I have a right to feel comfortable without [her] exposing [herself].”
The video quickly went viral on social media after it was shared by Ian Miles Cheong, and within days it had lit a fire under anti-trans activists in the area.
Many of those sharing the video and responding to it repeatedly misgendered the unnamed trans woman who visited the spa, while countless others posted dehumanising anti-trans slurs.
Protesters descended on Los Angeles after the video was broadcast on Fox News
On 29 June, commentator Tucker Carlson broadcast the shocking video footage on Fox News, claiming the woman’s rant was “amazing” and made his day.
Far-right groups and pro-LGBT+ counter-protesters descended outside the spa in Koreatown on Saturday (3 July) as the furore grew in intensity.
Officer Frank Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) told NBC News that they declared the protest an unlawful assembly in the afternoon. The outlet noted that pro-trans protestors outnumbered opponents.
The LAPD was forced to dispatch a helicopter to the protest as the exchange became increasingly heated. One person sustained injuries described as “non-life threatening” and was taken to hospital by ambulance.
QAnon conspiracy theorists appeared to be among those who assembled in Los Angeles on Saturday for the protest, while some wore T-shirts with the slogan “Pedowood”. The term refers to a conspiracy theory that a group of Satanists in government and the entertainment industry are abusing children.
Wi Spa USA told Los Angeles Magazine that trans people are part of the population of their city and some enjoy visiting spas.
“Wi Spa strives to meet the needs of all its customers,” the group said in a statement.
Peter F Jazayeri, a lawyer representing Wi Spa, later said that the spa is prohibited from discriminating against trans people under California law.