Rev. Eric Hansen, pastor of Destiny Church Springfield, encouraged his congregation last month during a sermon to complain to the Springfield YMCA about alleged inappropriate conduct by a transgender woman using a female locker room. Hansen provided no proof of his accusation and wouldn’t speak with Illinois Times about it.


About one month on, Rev. Eric Hansen now says he was talking about the case of 16-year-old Abbigail Wheeler, who will be speaking at a press conference sponsored by the right-wing Illinois Freedom Caucus, and thus claims vindication ("Spreading fear about transgender people," June 8). But when you read the complaint from Dan Wheeler, Abbigail's father, a few things jump out.

Abbigail's family does not allege that the YMCA members she thought were transgender did anything bad, dangerous, scary or upsetting – except sitting in the locker room. The entire "incident" is summed up in the complaint:

"On April 27, 2023, my 16-year-old daughter, a member of the YMCA SPY Swim Team, entered the girls' locker room to change out of her swimsuit and noticed a couple of transgender individuals sitting in the locker room. My daughter went back out on the pool deck and informed the head swim coach, Alex Totura, of the situation and he responded to her by stating, 'There's nothing I can do about it.'"

That's it. That's the only mention of the people in the locker room. Their entire crime was that they were sitting in the locker room and Abbigail thought they looked like they were transgender.

The rest of the complaint is all about some swim-team parents demanding that the YMCA deny locker-room access to its paying members based on their perception of who's cisgender and who's transgender. As a YMCA member myself, I don't mind scanning my card or putting in the access code for the health center, but the Y would probably lose my business if I had to submit to genital inspection before I could go into the locker room.

It's really hard to read the dad's complaint and not picture white people draining swimming pools or closing locker rooms to keep Black people from using them.

Don Gwinn


SELECTIVE MEMORY So Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer said, "That was 2016. I have a hard time remembering what I did last week, but this is all just games, and Roy likes to throw out the racism issue because that's all he has," but then he conveniently remembers that Simpson was not the only person nominated by Jim Langfelder who was rejected by the council ("A double standard: City council grapples with policy for appointments of former council members," June 29).

I love it when politicians in Springfield have selective memory in order to fit their agenda. There are two different Springfields in Illinois, one east of Chatham Road and one west of Chatham Road.

I believe what Ward 3 Ald. Roy Williams Jr. is to trying to bring forth and accomplish is that there should be consistency, fairness, transparency and due diligence for all residents of Springfield, not just east or west, by the current City Council and this administration.

Bill Baskett


I hope Mayor Misty Buscher saves the taxpayers some money and does away with the communications department for the city since the norm for this administration is "no comment" or not to return the call.

Chris Long



Hope this article holds the mayor accountable ("Something smells rotten in Rochester," July 6). It's such lousy stewardship of a community to make them vulnerable to a lawsuit over anger related to a personal situation.

Julie Tull



As ever, good, clear, balanced reporting with quotes on either side of the issue. A small community equals large pain, and everyone feels it.

Joe Kennedy


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