BY Kienan Briscoe and Jonathan Choe
LYNNWOOD, Wash., June 16, 2023—Lynnwood’s “The District” Executive Director, Janet Pope is recommending businesses on the District’s property – located near the Lynnwood Event Center – close Saturday, June 17, in preparation for a scheduled rally by Sovereign Women Speak in support of Olympus Spa. In response, left-wing “anti-fascist” and “anti-racist” Antifa group(s) have organized a counter-protest in support of transgender rights.
#Trantifa has announced a direct action to physically confront women protesting outside a Korean women’s spa in Washington state. The spa is being forced by a Seattle court to welcome male-bodied customers. https://t.co/BE9d6ybAHh
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) June 14, 2023
“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority and we’ve been closely coordinating with local authorities; at this time we’ve deemed the best option is to recommend to our tenants that they close in the interest of the safety of our community,” said Janet Pope, Executive Director for the District. “We will monitor the situation and update when it’s safe to do so.”
The Lynnwood Event Center property has seven businesses in its complex, including a few smaller offices above the Chuck-E-Cheese.
Last week, a Western Washington District Court judge has ordered a Lynnwood-based spa to allow pre-op transwomen access to its female-exclusive facilities after a complaint filed with the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC).
Transwoman Haven Wilvich sought access to the Lynnwood spa in 2020 but was allegedly told that her request was declined because, “transgender women without surgery are not welcome because it could make other customers and staff uncomfortable.”
At the time of the alleged incident in January of 2020, Wilvich hadn’t yet gone through bottom surgery, meaning she still had male genitalia. According to her blog, Finding Haven, Wilvich successfully underwent a 4-hour vaginoplasty, on August 3, 2020, to create a vagina.
Olympus Spa, located on 196th Street near the Lynnwood Event Center, is fashioned after “Jjimjilbang” — a health and wellness facility where patrons are required to be nude in some procedures per its Korean-inspired tradition. Because of this, it has held the requirement for members to have female genitalia – a requirement held throughout its 20 years of operation. Transgender women are only admitted at Olympus Spa if they have undergone post-operative sex confirmation surgery.
The rally, and counter rally protest, is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, at 2 p.m. at the spa’s Lynnwood location, organized by April Morrow, Founder and Executive Director of grassroots, non-partisan, and woman-centered group Sovereign Women Speak. Fliers advertising the Antifa-led counter protest have been plastered throughout Seattle and social media.
“We’re hoping to bring together men and women, across the political spectrum to show that we support the spa, that they’re doing the right thing and their hand has been forced,” Morrow told the Lynnwood Times.
Sovereign Women Speak’s mission is to “build a resistance from this insane and absurd culture conflating gender and sex in law and language putting all women and girls in danger,” its website states, by working “to stop female erasure, preserve the meaning of the word woman, restore lesbian communities, help incarcerated women, and support desisters, detransitioners, and families.”
“I founded [Sovereign Women Speak] three years ago when I found out there were men inside the women’s prisons,” said Morrow. “We’ve been working ever since then to bring awareness to the madness that’s taking place in our state.”
Morrow is referring to man-to-woman trans prison inmate, Brooke Lyn Sonia, who was transferred to a Washington State female corrections facility in 2022. Sonia was convicted in 2005 and 2006 for several charges involving child rape in Los Angeles County.
As a central gathering location in Lynnwood, the Event Center has experienced some minor rallies similar to what they expect on Saturday but within Pope’s three years as Executive Director she has never recommended businesses to close due to a rally or protest. She expects Sunday businesses can resume their operation as normal.
According to an internal email obtained by Jonathan Choe shared exclusively with the Lynnwood Times, the District will invest $10,000-$12,000 for security, including barricades and security staff. The District will not place plywood on windows but advised tenants how to do so if they desire.
“We are particularly worried about the heart sculpture given recent events in Seattle and will provide extra protection for that…The LPD is advising that everyone, including our PFD and OVG staff and Board members, avoid the area on Saturday afternoon except our core emergency operations team, so that limited resources can be focused on preventing incidents,” the email said.
Lynnwood City Councilmember Jim Smith said that the rally organizers supporting the spa “never threatened violence.” He shared that it sounded like it was Antifa threatening violence, coming out to “cause problems” violently based on reports he heard and read.
Councilmember Smith said that he is comfortable in the Lynnwood PD’s professionalism, commitment to the public’s safety, and are “well-advised” of the situation. Above all, he emphasized the need to ensure the safety of the small businesses in the area around the spa and their female clients caught in the middle.
“We need to help them,” Councilmember Smith said. “We need to protect them.”