Photo by zach adams/1221 Photography
Abbigail Wheeler, flanked by older sister, and former University of Kentucky swimmer Kaitlynn Wheeler (left), and their father, Dan Wheeler, speaks to a crowd of about 300 people during a July 13 news conference organized by the Illinois Freedom Caucus in partnership with the Independent Women’s Forum. The outdoor event was held at Rotary Park, immediately north of the YMCA Springfield’s Kerasotes branch..


Concerning the recent contretemps at the local YMCA: the Wheelers first need to calm down and stop exploiting this situation for the instant celebrity status it brings them ("Firestorm of fear," July 20).

I can imagine how shocking it was for Abbigail to see what seemed to be a man in a safe space for women. Trans people are exceedingly rare, and when it comes to sexual matters, we all become more guarded. But as she recalls how she felt at that moment, she should consider this: that's how a trans person would feel being in the dressing room that corresponds to their genitalia rather than their self-perception.

Gender is not determined by anatomy, though of course it is the standard indicator. Gender is in the brain; it's hard-wired into our identities. If the body doesn't match the brain, that's not anyone's fault – it's not a sin, and it's not a crime. It's just the way it is.

The YMCA should let Abbigail back in, if she wants to be, on the condition that she sincerely apologize to the person who caused her to freak out. The world is too small for hate and fear.

Jeffrey Hobbs



I'm writing with regard to the recent actions by the Springfield YMCA. The real issue here is our lawmakers have lost all common sense as well as their ability to understand modesty.

I remember growing up in the 1970s and being forced to shower after P.E. in open showers, both in junior high and high school. I never liked it and still wouldn't. So, it's not surprising to me when a 16-year-old girl didn't feel comfortable with the fact that biological males were allowed to use the women's locker room at the Y.

Men calling themselves female does not make them females. Men will never fully understand what it is like to grow up as a female, and likewise for women who call themselves male. The truth is we are two completely different beings with completely different body parts and purpose. Bathrooms, locker rooms and any place where people are undressing, showering or going to the bathroom should allow privacy from others of the opposite sex. Once upon a time, that was common sense.

The YMCA stated they are an inclusive organization who welcomes all people and do not discriminate. But in fact, they are discriminating against women and faith.

The truth is, our lawmakers have created so many different protected classes, it's not at all difficult to discriminate against someone in the process. As a result, what's happening is we are finding out that some people are considered more protected than others. Women have become less protected with all the laws protecting transgender women, such as with participation in girls' and women's athletics and what used to be considered private spaces.

Women and Christians are once again at a point in time where they must stand up and fight for their rights. What is shocking is that even organizations who should be speaking out for women's rights are not.

Sandra Walden



Some of the comments posted in response to this article are from people who are disturbed by other people who transition to a gender identity that makes them more comfortable and happy. First, the commenter should have some genuine respect for people who transition. Second, the commenter should try to respect not only their own position but also the position of the YMCA, trying to accommodate the people – all the people – of the Springfield area. Third, the commenter should think about the rules that the state and others have adopted to deal with this question: these rules and laws all require every public accommodation, like the Y, to be open and accessible for all.

The comments reflect that some people are disturbed, but have not fully thought through this issue. The commenters show disrespect for others, disrespect for a Y that follows the rules and disrespect for the rules. To the commenters, I suggest that they work on their citizenship and try to do better.

Jim Lewis (former U.S. Attorney)

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Illinois Times has provided readers with independent journalism for almost 50 years, from news and politics to arts and culture.

Your support will help cover the costs of editorial content published each week. Without local news organizations, we would be less informed about the issues that affect our community..

Click here to show your support for community journalism.

Got something to say?

Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Comments (1)
Add a Comment