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March 10, 2014: Trending in Michigan

March 11, 2015

The story of the woman in Michigan whose gym membership at Planet Fitness was revoked after she complained about a transgender woman in the women’s locker room has been all over the news. Here are a couple of stories from CNN.com and ABC News.

In the past year or so, there have been several news stories about laws and court decisions that allow transpeople to use public bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identity. But this one is really trending. Why? I think it’s partly because, in most cases, the organization or institution disallowed transpeople from using those facilities. In this case, the company stood by its “no judgment” policy.

The person the member complained about is not a voyeur, not a predator. She just wanted to work out, like everyone else. The complainer said the transwoman “looked like a man.” Many transwomen, especially those who have not been on hormones very long, or at all, have masculine features. (For that matter, so do some ciswomen.) I can understand the complainer’s surprise at seeing that person in the locker room if she has had little or no contact with transgenders until then. But to return to the gym every day for several days afterward, and after the manager and corporate office explained the policy to her, and spread her complaint around to other members? No.

It’s really unfortunate that situations like this are happening, but I’m glad that they are raising more awareness about the trans community. I’m glad people are talking about it. I know that, along with some significant strides toward transgender rights in the past few years, there has also been push-back. And I’m afraid that, as the transgender rights movement grows, the push-back will get more intense. Many people just can’t wrap their brains around the reality that there is a gender continuum. But I believe things will get better in the long run.

 

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