After a Black trans* person was discriminated against by bathers present at the Stadtbad Neukölln (Berlin), the Initiative Schwarze Menschen (ISD) Bund e.V. addressed an open letter to the Stadtbad Neukölln as well as the Berliner Bäderbetriebe:

Appalled about the treatment of a black trans* person in the Stadtbad Neukölln on 03.11.2015

On Tuesday, 03.11.2015 a Black Trans* person visited the Stadtbad Neukölln at 11 am accompanied by a person. Both people decided to use the women’s area of the locker rooms according to their positioning, but also because there are no other options available. In the locker room, there were repeated and significant attacks and assaults by bathers present.

This was the educator of a daycare group, which also used the Stadtbad Neukölln. The Black trans* person was told by the educator that she was in the “wrong” locker room and asked to leave immediately. After the Black trans* person positioned herself several times in front of the educator and drew attention to her right to be in this changing room and to be allowed to use it, she was physically prevented by the educator from closing the door of the single changing room. The educator further began to insult, abuse and yell at the Black trans* person. In addition, the Black trans* person was repeatedly referred to by the educator as a “young man” and portrayed as a danger to the children present, which was not the case at any time, as he was merely trying to take advantage of what the pool had to offer.

After the bath management was called in, they had the Black trans* person and her escort led out of the women’s area by two employees of the Stadtbad Neukölln. This was followed by a discussion with the pool management in the presence of the pool staff, in the course of which the person concerned repeatedly referred to the previous and ongoing discrimination against him/her by the pool management, as well as to applicable laws, in particular the General Equal Treatment Act. These notices were ignored by the staff on the grounds that these laws were absurd and that “other laws” prevailed in the Stadtbad Neukölln. The presence of the person concerned was described by the bath management as “disturbance of the public bath operation” and as a result of this, the person was finally forbidden access to the women’s area of the changing rooms. Only after further negotiations was the affected person allowed to retrieve his personal belongings, under the supervision of the pool management from the locker room.

As the person concerned was still in bathing clothes, he was offered to change either in the men’s area of the changing rooms or in the toilet for people with disabilities. During the course of the interview, the bathroom manager continuously identified the subject as male in a violent manner by referring to physicalities that were “obvious” to her. Likewise, only after repeated inquiries was she willing to give her name to the person concerned. Ultimately, the person in question was denied access to the bathing facility because there was no way for them to use the changing rooms.

Already on Tuesday, 27.10.2015, a similar incident occurred with the person concerned and another educator of the same daycare group. Also in this incident, the person concerned was massively insulted and discriminated against by the educator in the presence of the children. The person concerned evaded the situation at that time and continued his visit to the city pool.

In both cases, the educators did not reveal their names or the name of the facility.

The Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V. (ISD) is appalled by such discrimination against a Black trans* person by the bath management of the Stadtbad Neukölln, as a representative of an institution under public law. We consider the actions of the bath management to be a violation of applicable UN human rights conventions, the German Basic Law and the General Equal Treatment Act. The bath management’s flouting of applicable legal provisions that serve to protect marginalized groups is unacceptable and must not be allowed to remain without consequences. The unlawful removal of a person from the changing rooms and ultimately from the Stadtbad Neukölln, who is merely attempting to participate in public bathing, can also result in civil as well as criminal consequences.

We deeply condemn the fact that the Black trans* person was not treated as a victim of an assault, but was treated as a perpetrator due to her mere presence, was removed from the locker room with intimidating measures and continued to be massively discriminated against in the course of the conversation with the pool management.

The ITS expects an immediate statement of the bath management of the Stadtbad Neukölln, as well as of the executive board of the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe, in which a clear apology is formulated to the person concerned. Furthermore, we call for in-depth training of the staff of the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe regarding anti-discrimination laws and gender identities. We expect you to take measures in all your facilities that will allow people of different gender identities to participate in public bathing in the future. Likewise, we expect you to take measures to protect them from attacks and assaults by bathers and staff.

We are outraged by the failure to respect human rights and urge you to ensure that they are respected in all your facilities.


Sincerely yours,

Board of Directors

ISD Federation e.V.

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