November 8, 2017 7:51 pm
Updated: November 9, 2017 10:25 am

Toronto spa stays silent on pledge for change in policy on transgender customers

A women’s only, bathing-suit optional Toronto spa found itself wading through controversy in June, after allegations emerged that they turned away at least one transgender customer. Body Blitz Spa pledged to work with a civil rights professional to work on a fair and clear policy. Months later, Global News reached out to the business to find out whether any changes have been made. Shallima Maharaj reports.

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Bathing suit optional and billed as Canada’s first women-only water spa, Body Blitz found itself wading through controversy last June.

Social media posts alleged the popular business turned away at least one transgender customer.

“They claimed to be trans-positive then the manager called my friend (one hour before their booking) to say that they couldn’t come because they had a ‘no male genital rule,’” Facebook user Weronika Jane wrote on June 9.

“Tried to book an appointment for my wife @bodyblitzspa women’s only spa was told (their) trans-inclusion policy won’t allow ‘male genitalia,’” Twitter user Vi King posted on the same day.

While the spa would not confirm or deny the existence of a policy excluding transgender women, they did issue a statement at the time.

It read: “We support the LGBTQ community and recognize that this is a sensitive issue. However, because Body Blitz Spa is a single-sex facility with full-nudity, we are not like other facilities.”

The statement went on to say, “We recognize that this is an important discussion for single-sex facilities to have and we will seek to find a satisfactory resolution.”

Body Blitz also issued a statement on Facebook in June that stated they would be “working with a civil rights professional over the summer to help us with a clear and fair policy.”

They also said, “Please appreciate that policies take time and we are working diligently on this matter.”

READ MORE: Toronto spa responds to allegations policy discriminates against women who are transgender

Global News followed up with the spa through phone calls, in-person visits and emails.

We received a response over email that read, “We do not have anything further to say regarding this matter. Regards, Body Blitz Spa.”

Brandy Dawley used to frequent one of the business’s two downtown locations.

“I did enjoy going to Body Blitz. It’s a wonderful place. It was kind of my treat to myself once or twice a month,” she told Global News.

Four months ago, she stopped going altogether.

“I was actually looking into bringing my fiancee, who is trans, into the spa with me and wanted to check out their policies.”

She was disheartened by the allegations she saw online and said even if the spa revisits its clientele policy, she may still steer clear.

“Trans women face struggles that we can’t even think of,” Dawley said. “And for someone to be bothered because of how their body looks, is really disappointing.”

Transgender activist Susan Gapka believes retail and services providers still have a long way to go when it comes to the treatment of transgender patrons.

“We’re not there to mess up your organization,” she said. “We’re just there to belong and do our business, whether it’s a washroom, a change room, or just to have the opportunity to work on our health and well-being.”

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission website, “Trans people should have access to washrooms, change rooms and other gender specific services and facilities based on their lived gender identity.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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