City Desk

Spa World Admits It Kicked Out Transgender Woman, Says It Won’t Do It Again

Late last year, Spa World in Centreville, Va., kicked out a transgender woman—news that was first reported last week by the Fairfax Times and began spreading on social media and local news sites today. At the time, the Fairfax Times reported, the popular Korean-style bathhouse made a statement to the Better Business Bureau that it doesn't allow "homosexual or transgenders," categorizing both groups as "abnormal sexual oriented customers."

But to hear Spa World's manager tell it today, it was all a big misunderstanding—kind of.

According to Spa World manager James Lee, employees did ask a transgender woman to leave following complaints from other customers about a man in the areas reserved for women.  After receiving a refund, the woman, Riya Suising, left, and later filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Lee says that Suising's complaint confused Spa World. "She headed on her merry way," Lee says. "When she had left our office, she was very happy."

When reached by the Better Business Bureau, the Times reported, Spa World employee Sang Lee wrote, "Despite the controversial issue of homosexuality and transgender, it is our policy to not accept them."

But according to James Lee, Sang Lee meant to write only that sexual activity, either gay or straight, is not allowed at Spa World. "The Korean-English barrier just made a small miscommunication," James Lee says.

Suising wasn't engaged in sexual activity when Spa World employees asked her to leave. "There was a woman inside of the woman's sauna, and we had many complaints about that particular person, stating there was a man inside of the woman's locker room," James Lee. Although a transgender woman using Spa World's nude areas doesn't violate the bathhouse's policy as Lee describes it, "It caught us all off-guard," he says.

According to Lee, Spa World's policy is to allow customers of any sexual orientation or gender identity. As for any future complaints regarding transgender customers, Lee says they won't be asked to leave again.

Massage photo by Shutterstock

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  • Bob Summersgill

    Has Riya Suising received an apology? Obviously she wasn't happy with being kicked out.

  • Will Sommer

    Hi Bob,

    Spa World says they apologized at the time, no word on the present situation. I've contacted Suising and will update if I hear back.

  • Gerald Huster

    Why would they bring up the subject of public sex and homosexuality at all when that had nothing to do with the original complaint? It doesn't make sense!

  • Missy S.

    First, Spa World's excuses of miscommunication are BS!

    Second, has this article been edited at all???

    Example: "area's reserved for women"

  • John Smith

    Sick, wish i could get away with that, being a man in a womans spa.

  • Llamarama

    I certainly hope that they've changed their policy. But the Fairfax Times reports that SpaWorld, in a written reply to the Better Business Bureau after Riya Suising's complaint, wrote, "It is our policy to not accept any kinds of abnormal sexual oriented customers to our facility such as homosexuals, or transgender(s)."

    That honestly doesn't sound like a misunderstanding. But again, if the policy has changed, that's wonderful. I hope that a SpaWorld representative will clarify.

  • Jillian

    Maybe we -- the LGBT community -- should let Spa World save face with this explanation, and chalk the whole thing up to Live and Learn, and Forgive and Forget. They could turn out to be a good ally in the long run.

    Let's be gracious about this, and move forward.

    Cheers from Quebec

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  • Erin

    She was asked to leave and this man believes "she headed on her merry way... she was very happy?" That simply doesn't make sense. Presuming that she chose to enter the business and partake of the services, no one would reasonably assume she would be happy with being summarily tossed out. I'm not buying this disingenuous apology. It sounds too much like, "we're sorry she brought us negative publicity, and now we are going to back pedal."

  • Pingback: Riya Suising & Spa World, Virginia (USA) | Gender Identity Watch

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  • Marcy

    I was there on Thursday. I saw that new signs everywhere that said they can refuse service to anyone. When I saw the articles Friday morning, that led me to believe the signs were regarding that.

  • MP

    Most likely they tell their Korean customers one thing and their non-Korean customers another, so all the ajumonis can remain blissfully unaware that they're hanging out in Northern VA's #1 gay pickup spot.

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  • SW

    @Erin: Agreed, I don't buy the non-pology either.

  • JS

    Still confused over why she was asked to leave. Does she have male genitalia? In other words, women in the women's nude area possibly got freaked out by seeing someone with male genitalia in the women's area? (Scratching head.) If this is the case, I could see how some people could get freaked out. Still, this is not a valid reason for throwing someone out. (I'm gay, btw.)

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    I am on SPA WORLD's side. They received complaints from 5 clients about this trans sex girl. Perhaps the trans sex girl has the right to goto spa in peace, but those 5 clients who are unhappy with the TS's presence also have the right to enjoy the spa without any kinky shit going on.