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Trans woman found not guilty of public indecency for getting changed in Ohio locker room

Exterior of the YMCA in Xenia, Ohio.
Kathryn Mobley

In a landmark decision, a judge in Xenia, Ohio, has found a trans defendant not guilty on three counts of public indecency for getting changed in a YMCA locker room.

Municipal Court Judge David McNamee, an appointee of Ohio Republican governor Mike DeWine, wrote that there is little dispute of the facts of the case.

The defendant, Rachel Glines, had been authorized by YMCA staff to use the women’s locker room and was never advised of any change in her access. Three witnesses testified that she was in the locker room in which she was authorized to be present. Janell Holloway, one of the witnesses, admitted she didn’t see the defendant but could hear her “breathing loudly.”

Judge McNamee wrote that the prosecution needed to prove that the defendant exposed their genitalia, and that the “facts as presented to the Court did not exist” to prove the charge.

McNamee further wrote that there was no question that Glines was in the locker room, but that she was not charged with trespass nor with being in an area in which she was not supposed to be.

“Quite simply, the facts do not support a finding of guilt,” McNamee concluded.

Local reactions

Attorneys for the defendant expressed appreciation for the ruling and highlighted that the charges never should have been filed in the first place.

“The facts and law have been on Ms. Glines’ side from the beginning. It’s unfortunate not only for her, but for the entire community, that the filing of these charges ever occurred. We are grateful that the rule of law and the truth prevailed so that Ms. Glines and the community can move on in peace,” Lauren Dever and Keara Dever, attorneys for Glines, said in a statement.

Local LGBTQ+ leaders also praised the verdict while lamenting the circumstances.

“While we expected this outcome given the merits or lack of merits surrounding this case as a community, [that] this case even took place is disheartening. We feel for Ms. Glines and the bullying and transphobia she now deals with because of these charges that shouldn’t have even been brought to trial,” said Michael Knote, excutive director of Have a Gay Day, a Dayton-based LGBTQ+ support organization.

The Greater Dayton YMCA – the umbrella organization for the Xenia YMCA – previously released a statement saying that they adhere to Ohio and federal laws and anti-discrimination laws which allow all members access to its facilities and programs, regardless of gender identity.

“Under no circumstance will we investigate an individual’s birth identity and then assign individuals to locker rooms. That would be counter to the law, counter to respect for all people and it is not who or what we are as an organization,” a statement from YMCA read.

National attention

The case garnered national attention when Will Urschel, the president of Xenia City Council, was filmed in January saying that City Council actively helped coordinate the case.

“We went to three families whose wives and daughters had to witness [the trans woman in the locker room],” Urschel said. “They filed police reports, our detectives investigated and we filed charges against the individual in the Xenia municipal court.”

Holloway, one of the witnesses, is the wife of Van Holloway, the staff elder at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Xenia, where Urschel is employed as a pastor.

Xenia Law Director Donnette Fisher disputed nearly all of Urschel’s statements.

In a phone call with The Buckeye Flame, Fisher said that it is the policy of her office that the Xenia City Council does not have input in the criminal justice process and that they played no role in the prosecution of the YMCA case.

“We will not prosecute anyone for political reasons,” she said.

Some community leaders hope that action is taken against individuals like Urschel who helped advance this case.

“By the words of the City Council leadership and the push to press charges, we hope that justice is served for those that may be responsible civilly for creating a hostile environment for Ms. Glines unnecessarily,” Knote said.

Continued deadnaming

The case has continued to be widely covered by local and national media outlets.

In that coverage, including in stories this morning about the verdict, the individual has been repeatedly deadnamed, the practice of using a transgender’s person’s discarded name, instead of the name they have legally or socially adopted.

GLAAD, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization, has condemned this coverage, instructing media to use the name a person uses and not to repeat in reporting inaccurate names used by police or other public sources.

“Deadnaming undermines authentic identity and the basic human need to be seen and respected for who they are,” said Barbara Simon, head of news and campaigns for GLAAD.