Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins called a feminist’s comments about the transgender community “unpleasant and repugnant” following her submission to City Council.
Dunedin nurse and feminist Jennifer Scott spoke to the council with concerns about transgender women using the women’s changing rooms at Moana Pool.
She asked the council to ensure that gender-designated private areas, such as locker rooms and washrooms, are maintained in all council-funded or owned facilities.
After his submission, Mr Hawkins, who looked visibly shaken, told Ms Scott that his submission was ‘hard to listen to and unpleasant if not repugnant to say the least’.
He told her he was proud to be part of an organization that supported groups in the community and to be inclusive of who they were.
Mr Hawkins said Ms Scott’s comments were damaging to the LGBTQ+ community.
Cr Lee Vandervis raised a point of order and said the forum was not an appropriate place for Mr Hawkins’ personal views.
He said it was the council’s job to listen.
After a small argument between the two, Deputy Mayor Christine Garey did not confirm Cr Vandervis’ point, prompting an audible laugh from her.
Cr Jules Radich told Ms Scott he was unaware Moana Pool staff were ordering ‘anatomically male’ customers to use the women-only changing rooms, and said he agreed that the use was inappropriate.
He asked how long the practice had been taking place.
Ms Scott said she was aware that transgender women were being directed to the family changing rooms, but if a member of staff was unaware of the situation, customers would sometimes enter the women’s changing room.
Mr Hawkins continued to interrupt the exchange and asked if the adviser had a question, prompting Cr Radich to raise his voice.
Cr Radich ended by asking if Moana Pool needed to establish clear protocols for staff and guests for the use of gender-specific facilities, which Ms Scott agreed.