Planet Fitness has just shown the world that is it truly a "judgement-free zone."
On March 5, as BuzzFeed reports, the gym's Midland, Michigan branch canceled the membership of Yvette Cormier, a cisgender woman who had complained about a trans woman using the women's locker room. Cormier said she feared for her safety, and also reportedly intimidated other female gym patrons by telling them "a man" was using their locker room.
Planet Fitness, which has over 900 locations in the U.S., not only made the ethical decision in protecting the safety of all its patrons, but also took an inspiring feminist stance by refusing to allow bigotry through its gym doors.
The question of "protection": Cormier's complaint that "a man was standing" in the women's locker room wasn't what got her membership canceled. It was her continued harassment and intimidation of other women that was deemed "a violation of the membership agreement," according to Planet Fitness Spokesperson McCall Gosselin, as reported by M Live:
"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 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 cancelled."
In her interview with news station WNEM, Cormier used the safety narrative to justify her behavior. "I was stunned and shocked. He looked like a man. He did not look like a woman," she told WNEM. "This is very scary."
This is the narrative of hate crimes: Cormier uses a supposed fear for her own safety as a reason to jeopardize others'. The trans community, which suffers from an exorbitant amount of violence, knows this narrative too well. As the Advocate reports, "Every two days a person is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender non-comformity." In the first two months of 2015 alone, seven trans women — predominately women of color — have been murdered. That is almost one trans woman per week this year.
"A transgender woman would be much more at risk for her safety if she had to use the men's bathroom," Jay Kaplan, attorney with the ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project told M Live. Indeed, the most recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey documents that a whopping 63% of respondents "had experienced a serious act of discrimination" in their lifetime.
People were quick to celebrate the gym's decision on Facebook and Twitter:
Planet Fitness made the right decision, and through its actions has shown its support for women and gender minorities.