24 March 2015

On What Planet Does Her Complaint Fit ?

I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

For years, those of us who had the time and resources--or access to very dedicated volunteers--have filed complaints, and even lawsuits, about policies that discriminated against us.  Some of what we've done (Yes, I've filed complaints and a lawsuit that ended with a settlement that was donated to a non-profit organization) has resulted in everything from laws that bar discrimination in employment, housing and education to granting access to facilities appropriate to the gender in which we live.

Now Planet Fitness is being sued for having a nationwide policy allowing people to use the lockerrooms designated for the gender by which they identify.  

In Midland, Michigan, Yvette Cormier complained to several other gym members about  a transgender woman using the lockerroom.  When Cormier identified the trans person as a man, an employee corrected her, telling her the person in question is indeed a woman.  After she continued to complain, Planet Fitness cancelled her membership.  Now she is suing.

Carlotta Sklodowska has come forward as the trans woman in question.  She says she, on two separate occasions, merely entered the lockerroom to hang up her coat and purse and, later, to retrieve them.  

Ms. Sklodowska admitted that she's not a member and that she visited the gym as a guest of a friend who is.  Both times, she was dressed in leggings and a baggy T-shirt. She admits that people tell her she looks like a man--"it's obvious, even from the back"--and could see why Ms. Cormier would see her body structure as masculine.  However, she says she uses women's bathrooms "all the time" and that "no one has complained yet".

But she also says she didn't observe anyone in the lockerroom who looked distressed about her presence.  She heard about the complaint and lawsuits from friends and realized she was probably the trans woman to whom Cormier was referring because, "As far as I can tell, I'm the only one in Midland".

I'd bet, though, she's not the only one who goes to Planet Fitness gyms.  And, according to their policy, she's welcome in them and, as an employee told her, "You use the lockerroom that corresponds with how you are dressed."

And now Yvette Cormier is suing Planet Fitness for that.  Ms. Cormier, in the unlikely event that you're reading this, I can assure you that Ms. Sklodowska is being completely honest when she says she wants to make it clear that she's not looking to harm anyone.  I know lots of trans people, and not a single one has ever tried to do anything besides "take care of business" while in a bathroom, lockerroom or other public facility.  

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