The Cameron Family YMCA in Santee, California, in San Diego County, shut its doors for the second time in four days before a rally of anti-LGBTQ protesters targeted the organisation this past Saturday for its transgender-inclusive policy.
A 17-year-old recently told the Santee city council that she had come into contact with a "guy" in a nude state in the shower at the Cameron Family YMCA. Despite the fact that the trans woman she assaulted had already undergone gender reassignment surgery, the teenager's testimony spurred concerns that the gym's trans-inclusive policies—which were in line with California state law—were resulting in naked men assaulting helpless young girls.
The same YMCA was the target of a prior event on January 18, which resulted in its closure as the local Republican school board and city council delivered anti-LGBTQ comments to a crowd of about 500 people. On the outskirts of the Wednesday event, Proud Boys, American Guard members, and others briefly used violence against counterprotesters and the media:
As they decried practices that enabled "adult guys to parade around naked in women's showers and locker rooms," speaker after speaker in front of the Santee YMCA cited right and wrong as well as "what is true and what is good."
On Wednesday, homosexual radio talk show presenter Carl DeMaio scolded the "child abuser" at the centre of the controversy while standing over the Bible of the previous speaker.
Later that day, the Black woman who led the firestorm and whose grandparents had marched behind Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of a smaller audience 100 yards away and counter-protested in favour of transgender rights.
She introduced herself as Christynne Lili Wrene Wood after complimenting the Cameron Family YMCA as a "magnificent organisation" that helped her shed 60 pounds of post-COVID quarantine weight through their pool and classes. The frightening transgender woman who the young boy mistakenly thought was a guy is me.
In a Facebook Live video from his car on January 17, a local far-right activist and QAnon member Mike Forzano made the call for the protest on Saturday, mentioning that it would also be held in celebration of his own birthday.
Forzano is one of many anti-LGBTQ demonstrators from Southern California who have gathered in Santee. Those welcomed under Forzano's banner were members of the violent white supremacist group American Guard, including one man with a swastika tattoo on his right arm, as well as Proud Boys chapters and the right-wing Latino club LEXIT.
An anti-trans rally participant shouted he wanted to "String them up and fucking hang them" as he approached a small group of ladies counter-protesting for trans rights during Forzano's gathering.
Reporters photographing the event were frequently targeted by a masked anti-trans demonstrator who was thought to be an unaccompanied child brandishing an air rifle or paintball gun.
Of the gathering on Saturday, Samuel Deuth, a pastor at San Diego's fervently right-wing Awaken Church, addressed. The church staged the "Reawaken America" tour in March 2022, featuring Eric Trump, Roger Stone, and former general Michael Flynn. The event featured Qanon iconography and was intended to sanctify the far-right attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
There were about 150 people there for the two hours-long events; there were no reported injuries or arrests. Deputies from the Santee Sheriff's Station of the San Diego Sheriff's Department watched the event from the YMCA parking lot and refrained from getting involved in any fights.
Known for being a more conservative city with connections to extremists, Santee, California. The town's nickname is Klantee.