Late last year, Spa World in Centreville, Va., kicked out a transgender woman—-news that was first reported last week by the Fairfax Times and began spreading on social media and local news sites today. At the time, the Fairfax Times reported, the popular Korean-style bathhouse made a statement to the Better Business Bureau that it doesn’t allow “homosexual or transgenders,” categorizing both groups as “abnormal sexual oriented customers.”
But to hear Spa World’s manager tell it today, it was all a big misunderstanding—-kind of.
According to Spa World manager James Lee, employees did ask a transgender woman to leave following complaints from other customers about a man in the areas reserved for women. After receiving a refund, the woman, Riya Suising, left, and later filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Lee says that Suising’s complaint confused Spa World. “She headed on her merry way,” Lee says. “When she had left our office, she was very happy.”
When reached by the Better Business Bureau, the Times reported, Spa World employee Sang Lee wrote, “Despite the controversial issue of homosexuality and transgender, it is our policy to not accept them.”
But according to James Lee, Sang Lee meant to write only that sexual activity, either gay or straight, is not allowed at Spa World. “The Korean-English barrier just made a small miscommunication,” James Lee says.
Suising wasn’t engaged in sexual activity when Spa World employees asked her to leave. “There was a woman inside of the woman’s sauna, and we had many complaints about that particular person, stating there was a man inside of the woman’s locker room,” James Lee. Although a transgender woman using Spa World’s nude areas doesn’t violate the bathhouse’s policy as Lee describes it, “It caught us all off-guard,” he says.
According to Lee, Spa World’s policy is to allow customers of any sexual orientation or gender identity. As for any future complaints regarding transgender customers, Lee says they won’t be asked to leave again.
Massage photo by Shutterstock