Protesters demand safe spaces for women after bearded man enters Cowichan Aquatic Centre ladies change room

On Tuesday, Vancouver Island protesters came out to demand safe single-sex spaces for women after a video of a man threatening to pose as trans to justify being in the ladies' changeroom went viral.

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On Tuesday, over 150 people gathered in front of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Aquatic Center to demand safe sex-based spaces for women and children be respected. The peaceful grassroots rally was a reaction to an altercation that occurred 3 days prior after a woman and her 10-year-old daughter were allegedly assaulted after confronting a Salt Spring Island man named Natas Butler, who threatened to “identify as a bearded trans woman” after entering the Centre’s women’s changeroom.

“A man using an excuse or claiming an identity excuse is blurring the lines of all the things we are trying to protect,” Travis Rankin, an administrator for the Canadian Citizens Against Crime and Public Drug Abuse told Rebel News during the protest.

Although the focus of the protest deviates somewhat from the citizen-led group's normal causes, Rankin helped organize the impromptu protest because of the possible crime that was committed should the assault allegations be true. In a statement to Rebel News, a Senior Media Relations Officer confirmed that although no charges have been laid in connection to the incident, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP is still investigating the matter.

“This is not an issue of inclusivity, and this is not an issue of representing everyone’s rights,” said Serena Winterburn after she conveyed a message to the attendees on behalf of the mother whose daughter is reportedly still healing from the injuries she incurred. Winterburn said although she stands for inclusivity and everyone’s rights, standing for such should not impede upon the rights of women and children. “In no way can that erode our sense of privacy, dignity, and security” Serena added.

The protest also attracted a few Vancouver Island Conservative party hopefuls both federally and provincially. Conservative Party of BC Candidates John Koury and Marina Sapozhnikov were among some of the would-be Conservative politicians present. Both made short speeches conveying their concerns about the lack of safe sex-based spaces for women and children.

“We have problems in our public facilities where women and children no longer feel safe,” said Koury. According to Koury, he’s had women in the community reach out to him to tell him such. “Women need to know that when they go into the washroom or go to a changeroom that a male identifying as a female doesn’t barge in on them,” said Koury. “We can’t stand idly by and allow our safe spaces for women and children to be violated,” this was said by Koury.

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