A news story came out of Midland, Michigan earlier last month about a woman suing Planet Fitness over having her membership revoked after she complained about a transgender woman sharing the women’s locker room. Yvette Cormier was initially shocked because she didn’t realize the “man” was a woman.
In an online article, CBS6 paraphrases her saying, “Not knowing why the person was in the women’s locker room, Cormier said she immediately complained to the front desk and eventually to corporate offices.” In initial confusion, I do not blame Cormier for going to the front desk. The issue arises when the explanation of the “man” in fact identifying as a woman doesn’t clear up the situation.
We are at a point in history where when met with innovative circumstances of larger circles of inclusion and non-discrimination, the general public should not see these as any sort of violation against themselves and their “privacy.” In this changing society, the concern is not to be geared toward the feelings and traditional mindsets of many straight/cis-gender people, but toward advocating for the many communities who have long been under attack.
It is not intolerable to Planet Fitness that Cormier questioned the identity of the transgender woman, but rather Cormier’s persistent complaints about a policy that’s meant to welcome people, not push people away. If she had been truly respectful, I am certain that she would still have her membership.
The same article from CBS6 paraphrases that “Cormier said the issue is that Planet Fitness failed to warn her about the possibility they could be sharing a locker room with a member of the transgender community.” I feel that many people don’t realize the impact of the language they choose, which can carry judgment that may not have been intended. In saying that she wasn’t “warned” gives connotations of feelings not just of neutral unpreparedness, but possibly feeling threatened, in danger or that something was out of the ordinary must be met with caution.
It’s true that there are far more cis-gender people in the world than transgender people, but these people are by no means “so different” that patrons at facilities have to be warned about them. While this was an acceptable and normative response in the past, today it is ridiculous to assume to be in the right while holding such discriminatory positions.
However, while so much has changed as our culture progresses, we are not near enough to the ideal inclusive society as I’d like us to be. Many people, like Cormier, are simply ill-informed and may take things to unnecessary extremes. It is my hope that stories like this only help to open the discussion of LGBTQA issues and create a more open-minded, informed and loving society.