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Planet Fitness revokes woman's membership after transgender complaint

Story highlights

  • Woman loses gym membership after complaining about transgender woman in locker room
  • Planet Fitness said manner in which she expressed concerns was "inappropriate"
  • Yvette Cormier: "This is all new to me"

(CNN)A Michigan woman lost her Planet Fitness membership over the "inappropriate" manner in which she complained about a transgender woman in the locker room, a gym spokeswoman said.

Yvette Cormier's membership was not canceled for simply raising the issue, "as we welcome all feedback from our members," said McCall Gosselin, director of public relations at Planet Fitness Corporate.
    Rather, it was the manner in which she expressed her concerns that club management felt was inappropriate, resulting in the cancellation, Gosselin said.
    Cormier stands by her actions in a case that has drawn attention to transgender rights.
    "This is all new to me. I didn't go out to specifically bash a transgender person that day. I was taken aback by the situation," Cormier told CNN. "This is about me and how I felt unsafe. I should feel safe in there."
    The mother of two says she was acting out of concern for her safety and the privacy of other female gym members when she raised the issue on Saturday, February 28.
    She went to the front desk after someone who looked like a "man" entered the women's locker room while she was changing.
    "I wanted to know why there was a man in the women's locker room," she told CNN. "He looked like a man, and that's what stopped me in my tracks."
    She said the front desk employee told her about Planet Fitness' "no-judgment" policy, which allows people to use changing room based on "their sincere, self-reported gender identity."
    Unsatisfied, she said she called Planet Fitness' corporate headquarters and heard the same thing.
    "That should be something they pointed out when I signed up," she said.
    "If you have male parts you don't need to be in the women's locker room. I don't care what you are; I don't care if you're gay lesbian, transgender or transvestite. I am uncomfortable with you as a male in my locker room, in my restroom."
    She returned to the gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday "to get the word out" to other women that they "let men in the women's locker room," she said.
    "Every day I said 'just so you know, there's a man they allow in this locker room and they don't tell you that when you sign up,' " she said.
    The next day, she found out that her membership had been canceled.
    Cormier said Planet Fitness needs to do a better job of informing members of its policy allowing members to use whichever locker room corresponds with their gender identity, which refers to a person's psychological identification as a man, woman or another gender.
    "The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was canceled," Gosselin said in a statement on behalf of Planet Fitness.
    "Planet Fitness is committed to creating a nonintimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity nondiscrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity."
    LGBT advocates applauded the Planet Fitness policy, saying it was necessary to ensuring the safety and privacy of transgender individuals.
    Planet Fitness has the right to allow members to use whichever locker room corresponds with their gender identity, Alison Gill, senior legislative council for the Human Rights Campaign, told MLive.
    Even though gender identity is not a protected class under Michigan anti-discrimination laws, transgender individuals still have the right to use whichever bathroom they feel comfortable using, attorney Jay Kaplan with the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project told MLive.
    "A transgender woman would be much more at risk for her safety if she had to use the men's bathroom," he said.
    Cormier does not see it that way. But she agrees with LGBT advocates on one potential solution: unisex, single-stall bathrooms.