Dueling protesters clash outside Koreatown spa over transgender rights

One of the signs outside of Wi Spa in Koreatown on Saturday says: "Trans women are women."
(Adam Elmahrek / Los Angeles Times)

Dueling protesters clashed outside a Koreatown spa Saturday over a recent incident involving transgender rights, prompting Los Angeles police in riot gear to be dispatched to the scene.

Police ordered the crowd to disperse after fights broke out between the two groups in front of Wi Spa in the 2700 block of Wilshire Boulevard about 1:45 p.m., according to police and videos posted on Twitter and other social media.

“Demonstrators have now cleared the scene,” Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department told City News Service. “Pretty much everyone complied with the order to leave.”


The demonstrations were apparently spurred by an incident that occurred last weekend at the spa. An irate customer posted a video on Instagram under the name Cubana Angel and it quickly went viral.

The woman in the video complains to staff at Wi Spa that a man had walked into the women’s section and showed his genitals to young girls, according to the video posted on the social media platform. The customer the woman complained about reportedly identified as a woman.

“He is a man,” the woman can be heard saying. “He is not a female. There are girls down there, other women who are highly offended by what they just saw and you did nothing. You sided with him.”

Wi Spa defended its policy in a statement to Los Angeles Magazine.

“Like many other metropolitan areas, Los Angeles contains a transgender population, some of whom enjoy visiting a spa,” the statement said. “Wi Spa strives to meet the needs of all its customers.”

Protesters opposed to the spa’s policy demonstrated in front of the building early Saturday but were met by counter-demonstrators holding a “No Bigotry in L.A.” rally. Members of each group then began fighting with each other and police were dispatched to the scene.