A gym locker room can be a dangerous place for a woman.
- In New Hampton, Iowa, a 17-year-old girl was raped in May 2014 in the boys’ locker room at her local high school.
- In the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, a male student was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in his high school locker room. In October 2014, the student, who was 16 years old at the time of the incident, was convicted of one count of rape and two counts of kidnapping in connection with the assault.
- On March 26, a judge will hear a case involving four freshman football players at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington, who are accused of sodomizing a special needs student last October in the school’s locker room. A fifth student will be arraigned next week.
Michael Kasdan of The Good Men Project, writing in Salon in November 2014, expressed concern that locker room sexual assault is becoming all too commonplace in America. “The scandal unfolding in New Jersey,” he said, referring to yet another case, “demands we reexamine our culture of masculinity–and how it enables abuse.”
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So when Yvette Cormier, a member of Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan, was frightened by a large, bulky transgender “woman” in the women’s locker room at her gym, the Planet Fitness staff at the front desk took action–RIGHT?
Well, sort of. Just not the kind of action you might have expected.
Cormier told ABC News about her locker room encounter, saying that
“…the person was wearing a wig and ‘a little bit of blush,’ but was ‘huge’ and appeared ‘very manly.’ “
But Planet Fitness, rather than ensuring their female patrons’ safety, repeated the company’s mantra of being a “Judgement Free Zone.”
That means that according to Planet Fitness policy, men and women can choose to use whichever locker and shower facilities they prefer, depending on how they “feel.” The staff member at the desk acknowledged that there had been numerous complaints, but they defended the man’s right to choose in which room he’d shower and change. (They did ask him to change in a stall.) Cormier was told that if his presence in the women’s locker room made her uncomfortable, she should wait until he was done before entering.
Cormier, concerned about the company’s lack of concern for their female patrons, called the corporate office, but received the same message: They would do nothing to restrict the cross-dressing man to using the men’s locker facilities.
She was concerned that the club was not willing to protect her from possible assault in the facilities; and she returned to the locker room, where she told other patrons about what had occurred. According to ABC News, everyone she talked to “was appalled.”
That’s when Planet Fitness took action.
- Did they request that the cross-dressing male refrain from using the locker room?
- Did they ask him to wait until no women were present?
No. Planet Fitness called and revoked Cormier’s membership, effective immediately.
Planet Fitness director of public relations McCall Gosselin released a statement to The Huffington Post on the decision:
Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity. The membership of the member in question was not cancelled as a result of complaints about the policy, as we welcome all feedback from our members. Rather, the manner in which she expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that club management deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled.
The response from conservative corners has been swift.
The Family Research Council posted a statement on their blog, saying:
A woman protests that a man is using the women’s locker room and her gym membership is then suspended. Yes, this really happened.
Planet Fitness is no longer part of the rational universe. It has excised itself from the constellation of sanity and now exists in alternative realm where all things are malleable. Mr. Spock, where are you when we need you?
The cosmos has no room for this Planet. I hope it’s customers launch to other facilities and land safely at other gyms, where the atmosphere will be more conducive to moral sanity.
Michigan State Representative Gary Glenn represents the 98th District, where the Planet Fitness studio is located. The first-term Republican lawmaker called the company’s response an “in-your-face policy” that threatens the safety of its female customers. According to M-Live, Representative Glenn said,
“Planet Fitness obviously should rethink its anti-woman, anti-reality policy. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be surprised in a conservative family-friendly community such as Midland if they lose more female members.”