Jodi Jaecks allowed to swim bare-chested
Last year, shortly after discovering a lump in her right breast, 45-year-old Jodi Jaecks of Seattle was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, she went through chemotherapy and eventually chose to have a double-mastectomy. After being declared cancer-free, Jaecks wanted to regain her strength, become active again, and focus on fitness.
Earlier this year, she attended an after-breast cancer class at the Swedish Medical Center where she was encouraged by a helper to take up swimming. The helper suggested that she go to the Medgar Evars Pool located in the Central Seattle district. There, the indoor facility uses less chlorine and the water is warmer.
Jaecks went to the pool, spoke with an employee and the assistant manager, then went shopping for a swimsuit that wouldn't irritate her scars.
"I looked at one-piece suits. I looked at bikinis, hoping that there would be one that was made for a flat-chested woman. I looked at rash guard tops. I looked at men's triathlon tops. I just got really depressed. I spent an hour there trying things on, and thought, this is stupid. Accept the new me and I'll just wear my swimsuit bottoms."
Jaecks went back to the pool to express her intent to swim topless to the assistant manager. He didn't have a problem with it, but he wanted to clear it up with the manager. Impatient from waiting, Jaecks went to talk to Kathy Whitman, the city parks department aquatic manager. She told Jaecks that although she didn't have breasts, she would still have to cover up at the family-friendly pool.
According to Jaecks, she explained to Whitman about the nerve pain she suffers around her neck and across her chest due to the mastectomy. She wasn't too happy with her response.
"She said the parks and recreation policy was gender-appropriate clothing. I thought it was ridiculous because it threw it into a gender/ sex identity issue. If I called myself a man and walked into that pool they would have no problem with my body, but if I am a woman who's had breast cancer with the exact same body and I go in there then it was offensive or inappropriate. I just thought that was ludicrous."
That comment plus the one she made in an interview with The Stranger website earlier this week about being a lesbian leads me to believe that she was pushing an agenda. Jaecks told the website that she wanted to know how the rules applied to transgender swimmers.
In response to the article posted by The Stranger, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams decided to reverse the decision that disallowed Jaecks to swim topless.
"After looking at the situation again, I decided to reconsider based on the circumstances of the case. Our original concern stems from our responsibility to accommodate the needs of all our patrons. In this case I see nothing that might alarm the public."
I smelled trouble when I first heard about this story. To me this wasn't about not being able to find a top that didn't irritate her scars. She had an agenda. We knew that when she said how depressed she got when she saw herself in the mirror, and said to herself, "accept the new me and I'll just wear my swimsuit bottoms". She played the "I'm a lesbian"/discrimination card when she was told she would still have to cover up.
You turned this situation into another girl wanting to do boy things issue, and for that, Ms. Jaecks, I'm not impressed. Sure, you don't have breasts, but you have a vagina, and vaginas have to wear tops. Those are the rules. You want to get your body wet with your shirt off? Go take a bath. Otherwise follow the rules. They're in place for a reason.
So folks, what do you think? Do you think she should be allowed to swim topless? Do you think the swim parents who aren't ready to talk to their kids about people who act like the opposite sex should be forced into having that conversation? Do you think I'm being insensitive toward Ms. Jaecks?
Edward "Mr. Chap" Chapman can be found daily at the Insane Asylum Blog (www.insaneasylumblog.com). You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.