Dueling protests erupted in front of a Los Angeles spa Saturday over the establishment’s transgender access policy.
The demonstration was sparked by a video that was posted earlier this month, in which a customer complained to the Wi Spa workers after they allowed a biological male to expose his penis in the women’s area of the spa. The business stood by its policy of admitting transgender clientele, spurring objections, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Protestors both opposing and supporting the spa’s position convened in LA for a rally that turned unruly, after some participants started hurling smoke bombs and other objects at police, Detective Meghan Aguilar, a spokeswoman for the LAPD, told ABC News.
Video footage posted to Twitter shows law enforcement officers trying to contain the unrest, hitting protesters with batons and shooting off bean bag rounds and other projectiles. Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and demanded those involved clear the area but many refused. Several dozen arrests were made for defying orders to leave. Police said later they recovered stun guns, knives and pepper spray from the protest on the street.
The Los Angeles spa controversy exemplifies a growing schism in the U.S. over whether biological males should have access to spaces previously reversed for females. A number of Republican-dominated states have attempted to pass legislation barring transgender individuals from accessing the bathroom of the opposite biological sex.
Last week, a federal judge blocked a Tennessee law mandating that businesses post a notice to inform customers if they allow transgender people to use bathrooms based on their gender identity rather than their biological sex.