No Judgement Zone
March 7, 2015 6:56 AM   Subscribe

After witnessing a transgender woman in the women's dressing room at Planet Fitness, Yvette Cormier made comments and complaints to other exercisers every day for a week. Rather than changing their established gender identity non-discrimination policy, Planet Fitness cancelled her gym membership for violating their "No Judgement Zone."

Planet Fitness' Statement:
"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.

In expressing her concerns about the policy, the member in question exhibited behavior that club management deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled."
(Planet Fitness Previously)
posted by Juliet Banana (121 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think that Planet Fitness is getting a lot of backlash for this, so if you've been thinking about joining them, this might be a good time to do it. I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but it would be a good time to show them some support if you're inclined.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:58 AM on March 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Good for Planet Fitness!
posted by Renoroc at 6:59 AM on March 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


dang, i had considered joining bc they are right by my house. this might get me over the hump
posted by nadawi at 7:04 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they still have co-ed bathrooms in Japan. I came out of a stall and found my mom sitting on a urinal once. She'd never seen one before and thought it was the thing to do. Nobody got upset or laughed at her. They just thought she was weird and went on with their own business. We could be more like that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:07 AM on March 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


I always saw the PF sales pitch as a lark (especially the whole "lunk alarm" thing, which I still find obnoxious) but this makes me really reconsider that maybe it's more than just a gimmick. Either way, I tip my hat to Planet Fitness. Well done.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 7:08 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a planet fitness member, and I've always found their no-gymtimidation shtick sort of embarrassing and eye-roll-y. And, yeah, as a fairly gender-non-conforming person who always feels a little weird in locker rooms, I've wondered before about how they handle trans members. I'm glad they've given me a reason to be proud to spend my money there.
posted by libraritarian at 7:12 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


She feels Planet Fitness could provide a third locker room for transgender people.

Yes, because there's no history of problems related to having one set of facilities for one dominant group and segregating Others into separate spaces. Lord. Also, so it would be fine for trans women and men to share one locker room because why would they need any privacy as they're all the same or something? Whut

Kudos to the gym for taking a stand over this.
posted by billiebee at 7:12 AM on March 7, 2015 [50 favorites]


Excellent move.
posted by odinsdream at 7:13 AM on March 7, 2015


haha suck it, bigot
posted by klanawa at 7:32 AM on March 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


This has been zooming around my fb and it makes me happy that everyone has been "YAY planet fitness!"
posted by rtha at 7:35 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Yes, because there's no history of problems related to having one set of facilities for one dominant group and segregating Others into separate spaces. Lord."

I don't think that the black civil rights movement can be used as a fair analogue for this. It's just not the same, and it minimizes the ongoing American history of racial violence to compare them. Yes, trans women get more than their share of violence but that violence isn't happening in women's locker rooms.

There are already separate spaces here anyway, one locker room for the dominant group (men) and one for the subordinate group (women), for their protection. Those concerns are real.
posted by gentian at 7:36 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


This makes me feel really good about Planet Fitness' management--they have a clear, simple policy, and they applied it.

(Also, not for the first time, I wish I had never heard that Rae Sremmurd song.)
posted by box at 7:37 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Time to write a letter of support to corporate!
posted by crush-onastick at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My thought in reading the coverage is, there's definitely a creeper in this women's locker room, and IT'S THE LADY SPENDING SO MUCH TIME INSPECTING OTHER PEOPLE'S GENITALIA SHE CAN TELL THEIR BIRTH GENDER. Dude. How would you even know it's a transwoman unless you're being really pretty inappropriate? The lady doing the lady-part body inspections is the one that's make me uncomfortable about the gym lockerroom! I don't need my boobs being checked out by some woman who's decided she needs to know if they're (sarcastic air quotes) "real boobs." It's not less creepy because she and I were both born with vaginas.

"I feel like I am the one who is being punished."

Uh, yes. Yes you are. Because you're creepy.

And a bigot, and a violator of the policy, and couldn't simmer down after told to cut it out. But also because creepy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 AM on March 7, 2015 [95 favorites]


[A few comments removed; definitely a good call to try and avoid the "hey, here's an example of the worst transphobic stuff people are saying" linking-to-grossness thing, for sure, since it's basically tossing that stuff like a lump into the thread here even if the intentions are good.]
posted by cortex at 7:43 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think that the black civil rights movement can be used as a fair analogue for this

I wasn't just thinking of the Black civil rights movement. I was thinking of many examples across the globe and history where "we" have this and "you" get that. It's never a good thing.
posted by billiebee at 7:50 AM on March 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Planet Fitness' "No-Judgement Zone" marketing has been sort-of a joke among fitness circles, since the actual implementation hasn't been without it's own built-in-bias, but this is an example of it actually working correctly. So, yeah, kudos, and I might throw 20 bucks a month their way.

My overpriced Family-Recreation Center just did a remodel to have 'family/group/other' locker-room space since the 2 'family' changing rooms ( mostly for the pool ) were overloaded a lot, so that meets everyone's needs.
posted by mikelieman at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think that the black civil rights movement can be used as a fair analogue for this

Racial segregation in the US may be an obvious example, but it is not the only one. People have been doing the "separate but equal" dance since the beginning of time.
posted by sockermom at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Never thought I'd have a good thing to say about Planet Fitness, but hey, here we are. Good on them.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


How would you even know it's a transwoman unless you're being really pretty inappropriate?

Apparently she was dressed as a man. i tried to find a citation for that but got tired of sorting through the backlash dreck.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2015


I wish there was one in my neighborhood! Suck on it, haters!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:00 AM on March 7, 2015


This is completely awesome. In Michigan no less.

I'd never heard of planet fitness before this, but ive spent my fair share of time in dumbass gyms with thumping music and full of bronze meat heads. I spend a lot of my time at work trying to convince unhealthy, depressed, self conscious people that they should join a gym (shout out to Seattle U-district Y who set us up with discount memberships) but so often they're afraid of not conforming to what their perception of "people who go to gyms" is.

So yeah, any media stories about gyms where everyone is welcome is cause for joy and celebration.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:03 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


What does "dressed like a man" mean, exactly, though? It's not like there are laws about what clothes women can wear, and there are actually very few kinds of clothes that are typically considered inappropriate for women to wear. Men at my gym usually wear baggy shorts and a t-shirt, and some women wear exactly the same thing. (And I think you may have gotten that idea from an ill-advised link that I posted earlier, which didn't have any evidence that she was dressed like a man. The writer assumed it because the writer was a bigot and a dingbat.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:06 AM on March 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Johnny Wallflower: "How would you even know it's a transwoman unless you're being really pretty inappropriate?

Apparently she was dressed as a man. i tried to find a citation for that but got tired of sorting through the backlash dreck.
"

Pants? T-Shirt? Hard-hat? Mustache? Police Uniform? Native American Headress? YMC... oh. Planet Fitness.

WTF does that mean "Dressed as a man"? Not wearing a skirt or a dress? Wasn't wearing enough pink? Didn't have barrettes in her hair? Was wearing boxers, not delicate lady underwear?

But yeah. Ugh.

And what bothers me, is that I can understand that cis-women need safe spaces, and that some cis-women have been violated by men in differing manners, and so that's not to say they don't have a point in feeling unsafe, but neither does it mean they have a right to dictate how other peoples genders are.

Doesn't a trans-woman have a right to feel unsafe in a men's room? How many cis-women have been attacked by trans-women or men dress up as women in a women's space? How many trans-women have been beaten up by being in a men's room?

And separate but equal still denies transwomen their right to be WOMEN, not "something other than woman or other than man". I consider myself part of fluid gender sense, I personally enjoy the benefits of male privilege, while feeling not really a "man" nor fully a "woman". And I think that's ok, and I also think that people having their feeling of being a particular gender is also ok. And to deny trans-women that right to be who they are and who they feel inside is disgusting and insidious. More invasive in a much more deeply personal level than mere "stick to your own bathroom" might feel at first. It's one more attack on their authenticity of self.

Good for PF. I just wish we could find a way to address these people who DO have valid concerns and fears (beyond transphobic attitudes); people who have been assaulted, people who have misunderstanding, but can be educated... How do we reach them?
posted by symbioid at 8:15 AM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love this, and did a ton of free advertising for PF by sharing this article yesterday. I don't do gyms (love to run outside), but hopefully they will get a lot of new business now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:17 AM on March 7, 2015


What does "dressed like a man" mean, exactly, though?

Good point. Didn't mean to provoke a fresh derail.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:22 AM on March 7, 2015


And wow, it is so nice to read a lot of the really positive comments on PF's Facebook wall.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:23 AM on March 7, 2015


How would you even know it's a transwoman unless you're being really pretty inappropriate?

This is just speculation.

I have two small girls under 6 (the age where you have to start sending them to the respective change room) that I bring into the men's change room with me when they go swimming. Never had an issue with anyone. Everyone knows what the parts look like. So objections must be about something other than pure nudity, and that thing is behaviour around sexuality.

My own position is that it's all about perceived risk of feeling uncomfortable or being ogled/harassed/assaulted by a pervert. Sexuality is on a spectrum, gender is on a spectrum, perverts are on a spectrum. I'm at risk of being oogled or assaulted by a gay pervert in the men's change room. Am I worried? No. It's low risk. The same applies to this situation. If the person is not being threatening and clearly has some reason to be there, it's the best thing to do to just let them be there. If, on the other hand, the person looks like Jim Belushi in Animal House, he probably doesn't have reason to be there and that would be cause for concern. Is that going to happen in one million visits to the women's change room? Probably not.

There are family change rooms and booths for people, and those are there for people who feel uncomfortable for whatever reason. They're not there for people behaving respectfully to be shunned for body issues.

I don't think we have enough information in this Planet Fitness case, but it sounds like this person is complaint about someone having the old twig and berries and not because they were behaving inappropriately.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:24 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey, gentle reminder: trans wo/man. Space.

Re: "dressed like a man;" we only really have a bigot's POV on this, so 1) unreliable narrator and 2) gender presentation and clothing are a lot more diverse than "dressed like a man" and "dressed like a woman." "Dressed like/presenting as a man" doesn't actually mean anything. Bear in mind that presentation is often a damned if you do, damned if you don't for trans women: your femininity will be questioned for being too stereotypically-feminine, and it will be questioned for not being stereotypically-feminine enough. The only appropriate presentation for trans women is, "You're all lunatics and I don't CARE anymore."

Re: the forced third-gendering of separate facilities--there are enough examples of this happening in other cultures, and it's something that tends to look nice to cis people standing outside, but is actually awful for the trans people who are robbed of autonomously owning their identity by being forced into categories they don't fit into. More third gender spaces would be cool for people who would find them comfortable and useful, but the assumption that trans people should all be made to use them makes me think they're being offered as Freak Closets more than anything. That's not progress.

Re: Planet Fitness; I could have sworn this situation had happened in one before. Regardless, this has happened to gyms previously, and it's clear they actually did research on what the appropriate response should be. It's awesome that they followed through on that. If the presence of trans people makes you uncomfortable: get over yourself. That's on you, not trans people.

Re: media coverage/response to this--it sucks.
posted by byanyothername at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Good for them, but I'm judging them for spelling judgment incorrectly.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


My experience with PF, aside from it being an annoying drive from my apartment, was very positive. In particular, I have a lot of body issues and I am not comfortable being undressed around strangers, but they have curtained cubicles. So if someone's feeling personally uncomfortable with a trans person seeing them in a state of undress, there's zero need for that to be an issue, and that covers the only possible legit problem I would grant someone about this. Not that I think there's any reason to be uncomfortable with that situation, but I'm willing to accept people being a bit irrational when it comes to their own bodies. But with PF's arrangement... I might have raised an eyebrow, I guess, if I saw someone who looked like a cis male in the locker room, but even then I wouldn't see the point of a fuss that some guy might see me in sock feet or wet hair.
posted by Sequence at 8:29 AM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


generic PF observation here: I'm a member and find them to be, first and foremost, a great value on a nice, no-nonsense place to do basic aerobics and weights. I think their "no-judgement zone" shtick a bit off the mark as a marketer: I get what they're trying to do, and as a middle-aged guy who isn't particularly cut, ripped, bronzed, or attractive I've been to gyms where I felt a bit, I dunno, put down by people who place a higher priority on all those things. None of which is a tithe on the stuff women experience in gyms all the time OUTSIDE the locker room.

Where I think it's a bit off the mark is that I think they can sometimes leave the impression that you're NOT welcome if you're well-built, are an advanced weightlifter, etc. And that's not the case at all. We have lots of members who could break me in half if they felt like it. But the place is well managed, so that isn't an ongoing concern of mine.

None of which has much to do with the matter at hand -- I don't have much sympathy with the woman in question, but I can understand the discomfort that people with traditional values may feel. I tend to think that much of it could be addressed if people who designed and managed locker rooms paid a bit more attention to privacy issues that people who are fat, well-built, gay, straight, cis, or trans might all relate to.

Case in point - I used to belong to an old-school downtown YMCA which had a traditional big, old sprawling locker room. Long walk from the locker area to the showers, which were wide open spaces with multiple shower heads and no partitions. The women's locker room was an after-thought, because when the building was built the "M" actually meant a lot more than the "C" (or the "Y," for that matter), so the women (who were probably 40% of the members when I was there) got a crummy, moldy old locker room, while the men got a much larger, crummy old locker room which featured a lot of a long awkward walks that gave people who wanted to not show everybody everything they were born with experience in how to wear a very small bath towel while walking briskly, at the same time as men (both gay and straight) who enjoyed displaying themselves plenty of chances to almost literally engage in dick-waving contests.

And to be candid, the men who were standing around in the shower both when I changed and went to my workout AND when I came back 45 minutes later creeped me out, not because of who they were or how they might have swung (no pun intended) but because nobody really needs to take an hour long shower in an open shower area the size of a racquetball court, unless they own said shower area and have it to themselves [yes, there's still a water conservation problem there - one issue at a time]...

TL;DR -- seems like there would be ways to help everyone get along, regardless of their bedrock beliefs about cis/trans issues. A little respect, and the idea that good partitions make good neighbors, with apologies to Robert Frost...
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also hey: speculating on why bigots are uncomfortable with trans people in gendered spaces is literally pointless because logic doesn't go there. They're mostly relying on completely false negative stereotypes that are silly to be afraid of because trans people are at significantly higher risk of assault than they represent a risk of assault to cis people.

Also, preemptively: setting metrics for what's "acceptable" presentation is not great, because that's something that depends as much on an individual's means and resources and pure blind luck as deliberate choices. Also it doesn't actually help trans people: even if a cis predator walks into a gendered facility, no hormones, no effort in presenting as anything other than their cis identity, and assaults someone, we shouldn't use that as an excuse to punish trans people. We just arrest that guy and treat him like any other rapist; the idea that shouting, "But I'm trans! I'm a woman! Honest, guv!" as the police drag you away works to dissolve consequences of actual assault/rape/violence/harassment is wrong. You will be treated like any other predator. Police, like most institutions, are not overly friendly toward trans people. If anything, clinging to a false trans narrative will worsen the situation for the cis rapist.
posted by byanyothername at 8:35 AM on March 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


ALSO also: concern about bigots' comfort is inappropriate here. They just need to grow up or get out. Trans people in public spaces are not an actual threat.
posted by byanyothername at 8:39 AM on March 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


Awesome. Makes PF a more attractive fitness option.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2015


I totally support the pf policy. It's an amazingly accepting view of sexuality and I applaud them. But people in america are weird about nudity. In a way I wish my gym had a family locker room - lots of women bring their sons as old as 10 into the women's locker room and use the hot tub without anticipating I would be sitting in the hotub nude. I don't care about being seen but I also don't want to scandalize some kid because of their parents choices - believe me kids in the usa can't quite believe they are seeing a real naked person and kind of freak out. And these parents seem to have no understanding that people might be nude in the locker room or hot tub. So yeah, the woman checking out body parts in the gym who was offended by the trans person? I'm not at all surprised at the checking out part because Americans are just weird about nudity (except if it's a khardashian). Its totally creepy on her part to be so 'focussed' but I'm not surprised.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:50 AM on March 7, 2015


I've disliked PF since they started running those awful "Lunk Alarm" ads, but this is a super cool and incredibly refreshing action on their part. Good on them.
posted by protocoach at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2015


I don't know anyone who has had a bad experience with Planet Fitness, so I'm happy they're on the right side of this issue.
posted by xingcat at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2015


I would strongly encourage anyone thinking of supporting them to call or say something instead of joining. I joined and it was the most miserable experience of my life - they're kind of scammy with the membership, and it is a pain in the ass to cancel when I moved - they said I had to cancel with my originating gym, in person, would not accept phone calls, or emails, so they kept charging me for months and months. Supporting good stuff is good, but I don't want anyone taken for a financial ride because their other policies are great.
posted by corb at 9:12 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


So yeah, the woman checking out body parts in the gym who was offended by the trans person?

In all the time I was a PF regular, I never saw a single person naked. I wouldn't have been too bothered by it, but it's not that sort of an environment. There's not a hot tub. I saw a couple women in towels going the few feet between the showers and the changing cubicles on occasion. It's not that sort of a locker room, as a rule. I'm sure there are exceptions, but it seems exceedingly unlikely that this was anything other than deciding that a fully-dressed person looked insufficiently gender-compliant.
posted by Sequence at 9:23 AM on March 7, 2015


This is my local PF and while my close circle is happy with the decision most of the local reaction has been pretty awful. Midland, MI is a very strange little city with an interesting mix of people due to the Dow machine. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.
posted by MaritaCov at 9:25 AM on March 7, 2015


Yeah, it is generally impossible to both be "dressed like a man" and swinging genitalia around, because you know, genitalia usually stays inside your clothes. So if the one is true (or true-ish) then the other cannot be true, which means bullshit can be called.
posted by corb at 9:29 AM on March 7, 2015


From the trans* person's perspective, I had a similar thing happen to me many years ago in a locally-owned, rather upscale gym. It was in some old warehouses down on the ship canal, and most of the room dividers did not reach the very high ceilings. This meant one could hear everything between the foyer and locker areas.

This was before I owned a car, and I used the women's changing area. I had a LOT of bulky, very butch, and often very wet, motorcycle gear to remove before I even got to my clothes (which are also very masculine, but once I'm out of them, no mistaking I'm female). Apparently one of the other patrons must have been watching the entire I time I was stripping, because as I was getting into my workout drag, I heard a commotion at the front desk. What I could hear, and apparently everyone else could hear, was a woman loudly complaining that there was a MAN In The Ladies Locker Room and HE Had Jewelry In His Nipples. This was Seattle in the 1990s. I don't think one was allowed within the city limits without a body modification of some kind.
I stopped changing, and desperately started making a plan for when security or the cops came in to get me.
Everyone I could see in the changing room was in not-even-pretending-not-to-listen postures... when the front desk woman said "WHY ARE YOU STARING AT HER SO YOU COULD SEE THEIR NIPPLES?" I giggled. The other women in the locker room giggled.
The complainer was furious and demanded to see the manager. We're all listening; I'm still making sure I have ID, clothes and shoes on.
The manager/owner says something to the effect of if the complainer doesn't like the other patron's fashion choices, she can join another gym. When the complainer persists about it being the gym's responsibility to keep Those Kind Of People out, the manager agrees and cancels the complainer's membership, no refund, does she have anything left in the locker room, and here are two of the (bodybuilding) male staff to escort her to her car.
Everyone in the women's locker room starts comparing tattoos, piercings, weird hair, scars. "If that woman wants something to complain about, well, I have..."
Never have I been so glad to have flirted with the front desk staff and shared precious home-made chocolate truffles and smoked salmon with them for a few years. Simple friendliness, sharing humanity, has rarely had such a satisfying pay-off for me.
posted by Dreidl at 9:31 AM on March 7, 2015 [108 favorites]


I'll probably never go to a gym that offers free pizza and bans deadlifts (and bare midriffs), but I have to give them props for this. Definitely the right way to handle that situation.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:43 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not at all surprised at the checking out part because Americans are just weird about nudity

Except I doubt this was an issue. From the article:
The women's locker room offers private changing stalls and includes bathroom stalls with doors.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:44 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My point is, one can't count on staff with a sense of humor and owners who consistently do the right thing case-by-case. Organizations need equitable rules and governments should have equal protection law. Seattle might have at the time, Washington state did not yet.
posted by Dreidl at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"WHY ARE YOU STARING AT HER SO YOU COULD SEE THEIR NIPPLES?"

priceless.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:49 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"This is completely awesome. In Michigan no less."

In the Tri-cities (mid-MI) no less! Things are changing since I grew up/spent part of my young adulthood there. (Reminds me how I also was pleasantly surprised to find a Pridefest going on in Saginaw while visiting family a couple yrs ago. )
posted by NorthernLite at 10:22 AM on March 7, 2015


I commend Planet Fitness for following this policy. You don't see that kind of corporate courage very often. I mean, I still wouldn't consider joining, because they suck as a gym, but kudos to them.
posted by Edgewise at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(And I posted my Yay, Midland before reading MaritaCov's comments about crappy local reaction. Well, good on Planet Fitness anyway.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:29 AM on March 7, 2015


I just sent this to my brother as he is having exactly the same issue at the moment. Alas, his gym was much less "friendly" about it.
I hope precedent helps.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 10:29 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know, this whole thing goes away for bathrooms and changing rooms if you just build truly private rooms/booths with full-height walls, and declare them completely non-gendered. It's only slightly more expensive. The locker issue can be fixed by providing bags or something to haul stuff back and forth between the private area and a bank of lockers.

And some people might even appreciate the privacy from people they consider to share their own gender.

It's REALLY weird when you go into a small cafe or something and they have two gendered one-holers with separate locking doors. WTF?

As for hot tubs, maybe they should be "naking" and "non-naking".
posted by Hizonner at 10:36 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh - I like the banned woman's response: "I feel like I am the one who is being punished." Because even after everything that happened, it's unthinkable to her that, yes, she is actually being punished for attempting to shame people.
posted by koeselitz at 11:31 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, this whole thing goes away for bathrooms and changing rooms if you just build truly private rooms/booths with full-height walls, and declare them completely non-gendered. It's only slightly more expensive. The locker issue can be fixed by providing bags or something to haul stuff back and forth between the private area and a bank of lockers.

And some people might even appreciate the privacy from people they consider to share their own gender.


This is a perfectly fine idea, but consider when you posit these types of solutions in the specific context of discussing trans issues, it sounds a little obtuse. The response to "cis people are violent towards trans people in changing rooms" isn't "well, let's revamp the whole concept of changing rooms", but rather "how can we address the underlying social and cultural bullshit around gender that drives people to be violent towards trans people - of which washrooms/changing rooms are only one of the more overt manifestations." Considering a trans person can't expect individual stalls in every building they go to, your solution feels kind of like an abstract commentary divorced from the reality of people's lives.

I'm also uncomfortable with the reduction of the violence trans people face in washrooms and changing rooms to "well, everyone feels uncomfortable around naked people, even if they think they're the same gender." For one, not remotely the same issue. For two, I'm not denying that some cis people don't consider trans people to be the "same gender" as them, but it feels odd that you would plop that out there without addressing the implications, because without that, the way your comment reads is basically "well, cis people can't help but be bigoted so we have to change the whole structure of the system to accommodate them."
posted by Conspire at 11:53 AM on March 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I try so so hard not to stare at people, in general, in a locker-room or even a workout situation (nor do I want to be stared at) that I always find these sort of people hard to understand. Unless someone's equipment was directly and unavoidably in my line of sight (unlikely) then I would never know, and if I did see, would be too embarrassed to mention it. In general, if there's nakedness going on, I'm going to be keeping my eyes on faces only, except as I need to navigate the room. I do not want to see your stuff. I do not care about your stuff or what variety of stuff you currently sport. Please also don't stare at my stuff, which I will be keeping as covered as possible. Then we can all get along.
posted by emjaybee at 12:12 PM on March 7, 2015


She doesn't just say "I feel like I'm being punished", she says "I feel like I'm the one being punished". 'Cuz you know, not only has she done nothing wrong, but there's definitely someone who should be punished for, you know, existing.
posted by tigrrrlily at 12:39 PM on March 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


The response to "cis people are violent towards trans people in changing rooms" isn't "well, let's revamp the whole concept of changing rooms"

But we're not talking about cis people being violent towards trans people in changing rooms. That's nowhere in the FPP. The (presumably) cislady didn't physically attack the trans woman. She was snippy and 'mean girl', but nowhere did she engage in actual violence - which I understand is a real problem, but not one related to or needing to be solved in this thread.

And this thread has a lot of directions, one of which is, "How can changing rooms be made better such that everyone can be comfortable, even outliers?" Because the answer cannot simply be "Hey world, change your preexisting suppositions" because while that does work, it's a really slow process, and presumably people need to coexist now.
posted by corb at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "Where I think it's a bit off the mark is that I think they can sometimes leave the impression that you're NOT welcome if you're well-built, are an advanced weightlifter, etc."

Yeah, this is why I've never been a fan of PF in the past -- their ads, some of their policies (such as banning deadlifts), and some of their actions had made me feel they're just judgmental in a different way.

This, however -- this is just good. Good for them. Yay.
posted by kyrademon at 12:58 PM on March 7, 2015


This is a perfectly fine idea, but consider when you posit these types of solutions in the specific context of discussing trans issues, it sounds a little obtuse.

It always sounds like the response to legalizing gay marriage, of "why don't we just like, get rid of marriage?". I call it the silicon valley fallacy. "Lets like, disrupt changing rooms!".

The solution is rarely to just throw out the existing system, it's to change things surrounding the system so that certain people don't have a shitty experience. This is not an engineering problem, and that's an engineers solution even if it's well meaning.

I'll probably never go to a gym that offers free pizza and bans deadlifts (and bare midriffs)

The internet sure has a short ass memory. I wonder how many people are cheering this on right now, or will go give them money who have no idea about anything mentioned in that jezebel article?

This seems like a company that did a good thing, not a good company. I do like stories where people apply broadly written rules in a progressive way that may not have been intended when they were written for the greater good though, nice little dash of fuck-the-system.
posted by emptythought at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The pregnancy-midriff story seems to be exactly analogous to this one in that they're being consistent about policies. If we're mad about the dress code, that's one thing, but I don't see how we can be upset about them not making an exception for somebody because they're pregnant. That is to say, is treating everyone the same a good thing, or is it not a good thing?
posted by ftm at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2015


Well i mean, i thought that article was a pretty good indictment of that policy in general. It's not just about the pregnant lady, it's just a dumbass policy. It also seemed like they deemed her in violation just because her belly was big and would pop out, which seems like it could have other shitty implications.

They consistently enforce their policies, but their policies aren't consistently progressive or good.
posted by emptythought at 1:20 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


And this thread has a lot of directions, one of which is, "How can changing rooms be made better such that everyone can be comfortable, even outliers?" Because the answer cannot simply be "Hey world, change your preexisting suppositions" because while that does work, it's a really slow process, and presumably people need to coexist now.

No, the answer is doing exactly what happened in this case - tell the bigots to go fuck themselves. The bigot in this scenario can work out at home if she wants to be in an environment that she can entirely control. This probably won't change her mind, but the less socially acceptable we make people like her, the more freedom and safety the rest of us have.
posted by desjardins at 1:20 PM on March 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


As corb said, this is not a thread about violence.

But I'd like to defend myself beyond that. There is a real serious social issue here. Basically we have a war between conflicting ideas of how gender should be defined and what it should mean.

At present, it's popular to pick a side in the war, and say "Well, a person's own concept of their gender always controls". All right, then, let's do that.

Now suppose that I don't happen to identify with either of the two predefined genders you've chosen to set up changing rooms for. Not the simple, easy case, where I happen to identify with the gender that doesn't match my anatomy. The general, hard case, where I don't identify with either one of them. Such people are real, even though even some trans advocates find it easier to ignore them.

So which room should one of those people use?

Suppose you're in charge? Why should you think you should get to force them to choose? Because guess what? That'd be a shitty experience you'd be sticking them with, so that you could maintain a gendered system, whether for your own comfort or that of the majority.

If we're going to be inclusive of everybody's gender identity, then we can't cater to people who've chosen one of the "big two" at the expense of everybody else... regardless of whether the people we cater to are cis- or trans- to the gender they've chosen. We're truly going to have to accommodate everybody.

Furthermore, the underlying idea of "leave me alone and let me define myself as I wish" is kind of a cop-out in this context anyway. When you HAVE to do that, fine. But let's not pretend that it's a complete solution.

One of the big points of having gendered changing rooms is to provide "safe space" where people won't be surprised by people of the "other gender". If you're going to provide such a space, then you have already concerned yourself with the "invaded" person's sense of gender. The "invading" person's sense of gender truly isn't the only one at issue any more. You took on that conflict when you chose to create the gendered space in the first place. You will end up having to take sides.

Why would you want to take sides when you didn't have to? I mean, sure, you could decide where you were going to draw the line. And name-call people those who weren't comfortable with it as "bigots"... as if that solved something. But then you could be sure that somebody else would call you a "bigot" when you excluded somebody who wasn't "identified enough" with whatever gender.

As long as you have ANY KIND of gendered facilities, you will be forced to confront these issues.

In fact, that will happen even if you take nontraditional gender off the table.

Pretend we live in some fantasy world where there are exactly two genders, everybody fits comfortably into one of them, the gender you fit into always matches your biological sex, there's no such thing as an intersexed person, and nobody is unhappy with any of that.

Except that you and I disagree about how old my kid should be before said kid has to start using the "own gender" changing room, regardless of the gender of the accompanying caretaker.

Poof: we will have a conflict over a gendered changing room.

Or suppose that, in that same simple fantasy world, you and I differ about how much gender matters on the question of nudity. Say you're completely comfortable with anybody of the same gender seeing you nude, and you wander around the room in a "brazen" sort of way... even though you would not be comfortable with anybody of the other gender seeing you nude. You would be surprised to hear that anybody had a different opinion. I have known people like that in the real world.

Imagine that I, on the other hand, am monstrously embarrassed by seeing you nude, to the point where I go to great lengths to avoid even accidentally looking at you. And of course I hide my own nudity from you. We've heard from people like that in this thread... and it's surprised me; I don't think I've ever known anybody that worried about the matter.

We will have a conflict over one of the significant issues that led to gendered changing rooms; that issue will not have been fully resolved.

So, no, I'm sorry. In fact the only way to resolve this really is to fundamentally restructure the way the space is designated in the first place.
posted by Hizonner at 1:33 PM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


But we're not talking about cis people being violent towards trans people in changing rooms. That's nowhere in the FPP. The (presumably) cislady didn't physically attack the trans woman. She was snippy and 'mean girl', but nowhere did she engage in actual violence - which I understand is a real problem, but not one related to or needing to be solved in this thread.

Verbally assaulting and misgendering someone, harassing them for a week, and outing them to everyone in a public place is violence. It is an act designed to cause pain, suffering and humiliation of another human being.
posted by Conspire at 1:37 PM on March 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


One of the big points of having gendered changing rooms is to provide "safe space" where people won't be surprised by people of the "other gender".

Oooh, ooh! I got it! I have the real answer! How about men stop objectifying and sexually assaulting women, and then women will have no reason to fear men's invasion into their space? Then we can have one locker room for all genders.
posted by desjardins at 1:41 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, desjardins, you actually won't be able to do that, because there are many men who don't want women in the rooms they are changing in. For reasons which have nothing to do with assault. And there are many women who would share those same concerns, even in an assault-free world. Strange but true.
posted by Hizonner at 1:45 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hizonner: “No, desjardins, you actually won't be able to do that, because there are many men who don't want women in the rooms they are changing in. For reasons which have nothing to do with assault. And there are many women who would share those same concerns, even in an assault-free world. Strange but true.”

It appears that at some point we will have to have a threshold to separate good reasons and bad reasons.
posted by koeselitz at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


It appears that at some point we will have to have a threshold to separate good reasons and bad reasons.
Or, you know, we could just follow simple, obvious paths to make everybody happy without wasting time on judging their reasons for their preferences. Just a thought.

I mean, seriously, there are problems in the world that are actually hard, where you really do have to resolve conflicts between people's values, where you really do have to have winners and losers.

This is not one of those problems.
posted by Hizonner at 1:58 PM on March 7, 2015


Hizonner: “Or, you know, we could just follow simple, obvious paths to make everybody happy without wasting time on judging their reasons for their preferences. Just a thought.”

But you just spent several paragraphs telling us that there isn't a simple, obvious path!
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Heya, this is one of those things where I think arguing that there's a simple solution to a not-hard problem ends up reading a whole lot more dismissive than may be intended of the folks for whom the problem in question is one of a whole passel of very real and difficult aspects of every day life. It would be great to not have this thread go down a rabbit hole of arguments about abstractions, so please consider letting it be if you're finding yourself digging in.]
posted by cortex at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Now suppose that I don't happen to identify with either of the two predefined genders you've chosen to set up changing rooms for. Not the simple, easy case, where I happen to identify with the gender that doesn't match my anatomy. The general, hard case, where I don't identify with either one of them. Such people are real, even though even some trans advocates find it easier to ignore them.

This is directly opposed to everything I have learned and experienced. Your genderqueer hypothetical certainly isn't blowing my mind. Again, nonbinary spaces are a good thing in addition to greater awareness and acceptance of binary trans people as really being the gender they say they are. Also, "hypothetical trans advocates who object to what I have to say" is a huge, huge dogwhistle and something to avoid or keep in mind if that isn't what you want to intentionally evoke. It's also just flatly wrong, here: many trans activists themselves have nonbinary identities.
posted by byanyothername at 2:04 PM on March 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Caught this story early yesterday. Midland, lived there for 3 years. It is a "conservative" town and has a lot of folks who come and go because of Dow. When I googled the story yesterday, it had little to no traction. Good to see it here on the blue and good for PF.
posted by clavdivs at 2:24 PM on March 7, 2015


Okay – sorry, Hizonner, I guess I missed your first comment here:

Hizonner: “You know, this whole thing goes away for bathrooms and changing rooms if you just build truly private rooms/booths with full-height walls, and declare them completely non-gendered. It's only slightly more expensive. The locker issue can be fixed by providing bags or something to haul stuff back and forth between the private area and a bank of lockers.”

This is a nice idea. It is an idea which a lot of people here have embraced. I don't think it causes the friction you think it causes. byanyothername's recent comment above mine makes this clear, I think. Nonbinary spaces = awesome idea. We are agreed on this.

The issue is that, no, this is not a practical solution for every space everywhere. It is not a practical solution for the high school swimming pool I swim at every day. It is not a practical solution for the gym around the corner from me. I totally agree that it would be awesome if these places could implement non-gendered individual spaces for changing right away, but it's not in the cards for a simple reason: funding. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation where we have many (probably most?) buildings outfitted with a gender binary in mind.

That is why I made the comment above about there needing to be a threshold between good reasons for saying you're uncomfortable and bad reasons for saying you're uncomfortable. I appreciate that that's a bit grating to the ear – discomfort is not something that can be rationalized anyway, and it is not something easily categorized into "good" or "bad" – but in practice, this is the solution: for us to contextualize things as regards justice, personal freedom, individual feelings of safety, and other pertinent factors.

In other words, practically speaking – because of the way spaces like this are laid out, there is an expectation set: if I go into this locker room and change, I might see other people naked, and they might see me naked. If I'm uncomfortable with that, there are various mitigations available to me (i.e. changing at home, changing in a bathroom stall, etc) but I have to accept the given space as it is. Along with that acceptance comes a set of tacit rules or guidelines that are implied by my willingness to change in the space. One of them is: don't attempt to shame people, and they aren't allowed to shame you. This means, for instance, that I shouldn't sit and stare at someone's genitalia; and if they sit and stare at me, they're violating the space, and I can tell them to stop. It also means that if I invade their space by waving my genitalia around or doing weird or lewd things, that also counts as violating the space. In general, in the locker room, we mind our own business, we don't comment on other people's genitalia, and we don't make a silly fuss about other folks being there unless they are actively disrupting other people.

This is actually pretty straightforward, and has been (at least provisionally) the rule in every locker room I've ever been in. I agree that application can seem complicated. But I think the trick here is to make sure to stick to this rule with thorough exactitude, because it is tempting not to.

Feelings of discomfort are fleeting and sometimes irrational, so we have to interrogate them. "Hey, I feel like that person has breasts – and might be a woman – and I am uncomfortable with women seeing me naked – so I am experiencing discomfort." That might be a thing I experience. When I do, I have to go back to the original set of tacit rules and follow them through: am I minding my own business? No. If that person who I feel vaguely discomforted by isn't actively disrupting me or anybody else, I need to ignore that feeling and move on, because to do otherwise would be to restrict their personal freedom and violate the expectation of the locker room for the sake of my vague feelings.

I agree that a world where we don't have to make such priority choices is ideal. But it isn't the world we live in. The world we live in requires us to choose between our comforts and discomforts, and to balance these against community expectations and the freedom of others. The only rational way to do so is to hem as closely as we can to the "live and let live, mind my own business" model.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Misgendering a trans woman in private, when it's just the two of you, can be considered not-an-act-of-violence, as long as you don't consider purposefully trying to set off someone's PTSD triggers as violence.

Misgendering a trans woman in public is absolutely, unquestionably an act of violence.
posted by these are science wands at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, the instinct to create, whenever trans women are presented as highlighting a problem with cis people's bigotry, third- or non-gender spaces to accommodate us leads to ludicrous situations like the trans woman in the office only being able to use that one toilet on the fifth floor, or a university student only being able to use one toilet on the whole campus.
posted by these are science wands at 2:32 PM on March 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Thanks, koeselitz.

I agree that it's not possible to rebuild these spaces right away. And, to respond to others, I definitely didn't mean to give the impression that I thought that the possibility of building nongendered spaces magically solved the problems with the existing gendered ones.

What I'm mostly trying to convey is that there's a relatively easy path to avoid future problems by not building more of them, and by retrofitting when possible. What I'm reacting to is the assumption that it's a given that any such space you build will be gendered.

I mean, how long as PF been in business? Are their locker rooms really legacy spaces? I suspect this issue was known when they built out those rooms.

Also and somewhat contradicting myself, yeah, building nongendered spaces is a long-term thing... but I bet I can rebuild every bathroom and locker room in the world before there's anything even close to a universal change in even most of the attitudes that make gendered ones problematic. Not just attitudes toward trans people, either.
posted by Hizonner at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I bet I can rebuild every bathroom and locker room in the world before there's anything even close to a universal change in even most of the attitudes that make gendered ones problematic.

I have an idea!

Since people seem to like to punch trans women a lot, all we have to do is put every trans women in the world in a giant hamster ball.

I bet I could do that faster than we can universally convince everyone in the world not to punch trans women!

Do you seriously not see the problem with your argument here?
posted by Conspire at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hey, I just want to leave this explanation here before I duck out for a while, in case the intensity with which I replied up above seems weird. Evoking "trans advocates/activists" in a negative or obstructionist way is a fairly common dogwhistle of TERFs and transphobes. It's pretty equivalent to the way MRAs and misogynists evoke "SJWs." It looks like it was accidental here, which is understandable. This isn't stuff many people are super aware of.

It's also another common TERF dogwhistle to argue from an assumption that trans people are more heavily invested in a gender binary. This is offensively weird because the trans people I know and know of are the loudest, most active and most heavily invested in moving beyond gender binaries. It's kind of a huge part of trans advocacy, even for binary folks.

Just some notes on not-toe-stepping for future reference.
posted by byanyothername at 3:05 PM on March 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


PF is terrible in so many ways, but in this case, they have done well. And yeah, I laughed out loud at the "I feel like I'm the one being punished!" line.
posted by KathrynT at 4:01 PM on March 7, 2015


KathrynT, for me it brings to mind the best of John Oliver's Daily Show work:

"I feel like I'm the one being punished!"
"... right"
"Right!"
"... right"
posted by tigrrrlily at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2015


"Dressed like a man"

The person was wearing a wig and "a little bit of blush," but was "huge" and appeared "very manly," Cormier told ABC News today.

"I just stopped right there in my tracks," she said. "It was a man for sure."

Cormier, who had been a Planet Fitness member for two months, said she went to the front desk immediately. The man at the desk told her that Planet Fitness policy is "whatever gender you feel you are, that's the locker room you're allowed to go in," she said.

"And then he said, 'We've had lots of complaints about him but we told him to go change in a stall,'" Cormier said.

"He said, 'if you're uncomfortable with that you can wait until he's done in there,'" she said. "I stood back and said, 'How about he waits until I'm done in the women's locker room. Or get a unisex bathroom.' He asked if I would like to talk to the manager and I said, 'I'm calling corporate.'"
posted by merelyglib at 5:30 PM on March 7, 2015


I absolutely trust this woman's account of events.
posted by these are science wands at 5:33 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I feel like I am the one who is being punished."

I think it's nice that she finally reaches some level of awareness. She feels like she is the one being punished because this is pretty much what is happening.

Next maybe she will understand what she did wrong.
posted by jeather at 6:18 PM on March 7, 2015


It appears that at some point we will have to have a threshold to separate good reasons and bad reasons.

And, while this can seem like a black hole, the line really should be at "people who identify as the same gender as me"

The right way to do this is to have a mens space, a womens space, and an anything everybody free for all space. The wrong way to do this is to just have a gender neutral space and nothing else.

I watched a long, bloody, awful war go down over this where for a long time the "everyone space only" people were winning at a local hippy dippy college. The argument was basically "if you're uncomfortable with it, you're a bigot" and it got used over and over and over. Most of the people who were uncomfortable were cis women, and the response was basically "tough".

The only compassionate reasonable answer is if you say you identify as a woman/man, you get to use the womens/mens room and any haters go to the left. But "lets get rid of the separated rooms!" makes a lot of people uncomfortable just to prove some stupid point.

I totally support a "i don't want to go in either gendered room" room though, ditto for private stalls.

It's REALLY weird when you go into a small cafe or something and they have two gendered one-holers with separate locking doors. WTF?

Random cool detail, but both the business i work for(which has several cafes) and a few other local places were built with rooms like this, but have put up signs saying "yo these are now gender neutral bathrooms grab whichever key is here and go wild, sorry about the big M/W signs". I've actually watched more and more places pick this up in seattle. I also heard that when they have to build out a new store soon because of a building getting knocked down/new one opening they're just putting up toilet logos on the doors and saying fuck it. Bathrooms a bathroom.

There's amazingly been haters to this who have gone "i don't want to use a womens room a man was just in a minute ago!" and it's like, do you believe they're in a quantum superposition and creeping on you? what?
posted by emptythought at 6:58 PM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


"And then he said, 'We've had lots of complaints about him but we told him to go change in a stall,'" Cormier said.

That doesn't sound like the most inclusive local policy on the ground at all. It looks like this lady through calling corporate actually got less the result she wanted as they have to be more in line with their policies than local areas.
posted by corb at 7:17 PM on March 7, 2015


emptythought: "Random cool detail, but both the business i work for(which has several cafes) and a few other local places were built with rooms like this, but have put up signs saying "yo these are now gender neutral bathrooms grab whichever key is here and go wild, sorry about the big M/W signs". I've actually watched more and more places pick this up in seattle. I also heard that when they have to build out a new store soon because of a building getting knocked down/new one opening they're just putting up toilet logos on the doors and saying fuck it. Bathrooms a bathroom."

Almost certainly a change in local code that places with a capacity under X people can have one shared bathroom or two unisex bathrooms. The "M/W" separate bathrooms were almost always due to local codes from an earlier age (sometimes from when public buildings first started having bathrooms!) that mandated separate men's and women's rooms ... it was basically, like, railroad stations and associated hotels/eating eating establishments right at first that had public, separate bathrooms, and the point was typically to protect female travelers from male travelers. (Probably on the East Coast there would be more public businesses with bathrooms right at the start, but out west it was generally the railroads that had to deal with it first.)

What most larger, customer-friendly establishments (like Target and Costco) are doing THESE days is having a men's room, a women's room, and a "family restroom" that is large enough to fit a stroller, or a wheelchair, or a shopping cart, and has a baby changing station and lots of accessibility aids, so that a parent shopping with three kids can take them all in the bathroom, or a wheelchair-bound grandmother with a grandson who helps her in the bathroom can have him help, or an individual who doesn't want to use either "gendered" bathroom or wants more privacy in the restroom, for any reason whatsoever, can use the "family restroom" without a problem.

One of the regional gas stations near me is going in huge on unisex family restrooms. Their big selling points are a) road food and b) extremely clean bathrooms, making them very popular for long-distance drivers. Typically they've had very small men's and women's rooms in even their most rural locations, but all of their newer stations and recent renovations take that same area and instead of two single-gender multi-stall restrooms, and make two big, unisex "family restrooms" (one room each, with a locking door) with a urinal and a toilet and a baby changing station and a tampon machine and all the ADA aids and enough space for three people. It is REALLY NICE when traveling with my kids and it doesn't seem to increase bathroom wait time ... and I've noticed a lot more people with mobility aids in those restrooms. So I think they're getting a lot more popular, and while I don't think it's a "solution" to bathroom panic per se, hopefully family restrooms provide more people with more options that suit their comfort levels.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


That doesn't sound like the most inclusive local policy on the ground at all

i don't think she's shown any reason to trust or believe her telling of events.
posted by nadawi at 8:35 PM on March 7, 2015


I'm judging them for spelling judgment incorrectly.

King James Bible was a looooong time ago now. (Judgement is more common in the UK, but it really should be standard. There's just no reason other than tradition to omit the e and have this one special case of the "dg" = "j" spelling, and Fowler agreed with my take.) I applaud their polices and their grammar!
posted by dhartung at 3:34 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait--grammar?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:51 AM on March 8, 2015


According to the complainant ,

The person was wearing a wig and "a little bit of blush," but was "huge" and appeared "very manly."

Let's be clear here. Wearing a wig and makeup is not "dressing like a man." The complainant did not think she saw a cis man in the changing room. She saw a visibly trans woman--someone identifying as and presenting as female, whose skeletal structure reveals her trans status.

These two women were in a facility with separate changing stalls and shower stalls. There is not even an attempt to raise the tired old transphobic saws--"A man is pretending to be a woman to see me naked!" or "I saw the 'wrong' bits and they traumatized me!"--because the facilities are already engineered for privacy.

What we have is a transphobe stating "I refuse to respect gender transitions, and scrutinize the bodies of those around me to ensure they are cis gender. Further, I demand that institutions around me do so as well."

Which, by the way, are exactly the terms now being proposed as law in the rash of transphobic bills that would fine business owners for failing to exclude trans people , or, for example, allow high school students to sue the school for $2500 for each incident in which the student saw a trans student in the locker room matching their gender identity.
posted by DrMew at 10:09 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this is related and based in genital phobia: Long term care staff tried to make me leave the room after my mom became incontinent and needed cleaning. I'd been doing that job at home and it didn't squick me out at all. Better than a sucking chest wound and how many times did she clean me up? Where did I come from? It was always the women trying to get me out of the room. I fought that hard. Mom trusted me.

"You are going to get her in there by yourself are you?" "I can get someone to help in 20 minutes." "Fuck that. I'll do it"

The male CNAs always asked me if I was ok with it and then they asked my mom. Interesting.

Getting freaked out by genitalia or blood or shit or piss or vomit coming out of a fellow body is not going to help civilization. And don't these people share bathrooms at home? My son and I pee on each other in the Shower of Doom, which happens in the actual shower of water and soap and results in minutes of laughter and gets him off to school in a good mood. He can't hit my face yet and I aim low. The whiny person in the article would probably try to have me prosecuted for child abuse.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:59 PM on March 8, 2015


My son and I pee on each other in the Shower of Doom, which happens in the actual shower of water and soap and results in minutes of laughter and gets him off to school in a good mood. He can't hit my face yet and I aim low.

I've never heard of this before, but this sounds hilarious and I'm angry I never thought of it. I mean it's gross, but sounds harmless.
posted by ColdChef at 4:26 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Texas bill is fucking surreal, in that they have specifically designed down to chromosomal abnormalities who is a man and who is a woman - like according to them XXY is a man, but someone with "More than one X, but no Y chromosomes" is a woman. I'm assuming this is for our brave new bathroom genetic-swab world? Bonus points, they let it be used by the police! Aha. Ahah. Ahaaaaaaaaah.
posted by corb at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2015


I naïvely think these bills could be fought with ads using conventionally attractive trans women with the tagline "...so and so wants me to use the Men's Room?"
posted by odinsdream at 5:51 PM on March 8, 2015


They could, but they shouldn't.
posted by desjardins at 6:52 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, fuck that. The convincingly passing, conventionally attractive trans woman is not who people are panicking about or want to exclude, it's those of us who are visibly trans or gendervariant.
posted by Dysk at 1:54 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fwiw I'm a not-at-all-passing trans woman. I think these bills aren't about excluding anyone per se, they're cynical political games to turn out voters. They prey on people's fears and appeal to the kind of voters who are conservative and probably haven't ever thought about trans issues or even truly considered that trans people exist, and what that means for public policy and accessibility. If they do, their mental image of a trans woman is most likely the man-in-a-dress trope popularized in media. To be clear, visible trans people are absolutely the ones affected by enactment of such laws, it just seems to me that sabotaging their messaging may be more effective than trying to win a debate on gender variance with conservative voters on the merits.
posted by odinsdream at 8:39 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


i dunno - we recently went through a nasty bout of bathroom panic in my arkansas town where an anti-discrimination ordinance succeeded and then failed. it was grotesque the lengths those opposed to the ado would go and their rhetoric was some of the most hateful i've ever seen. i think previous to all of it my dad was pretty pro-gay rights, never thinking about trans people, but maybe being transphobic out of ignorance. he watched some of the city council meetings which were just streams of people saying every awful thing about trans people that fill the comment sections below newspaper articles and then a few really brave, while obviously legitimately terrified, trans women getting up to argue for their right to exist, to have shelter, jobs, to be able to pee. and you know, surprising to me, it wasn't the women who passed that steered him in towards aggressively pro-trans rights, it was the women who were viably trans - he said right after the first city council meeting that he maybe doesn't understand it fully, but he immediately saw how dangerous it would be to send those women into mens restrooms (and how stupid and nonsensical the transphobic arguments were).

i don't think we have to cater to cishet comfort to get the job done even if the path initially seems easier.
posted by nadawi at 9:15 AM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


odinsdream: I think these bills aren't about excluding anyone per se, they're cynical political games to turn out voters. They prey on people's fears and appeal to the kind of voters who are conservative and probably haven't ever thought about trans issues or even truly considered that trans people exist, and what that means for public policy and accessibility.

True fact!

Remember a couple of years ago where MN tried putting an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot right next to a voter ID question? Talk about Capital 'C' Conservative get-out-the-vote shenanigans! Thankfully we stopped both of those initiatives at the voting booth.

Unfortunately, the balance has shifted to more conservative state legislators again, so crap like this SF 1543 (potential legislation against the MSHSL's ruling to allow student athletes to compete as the gender they identify with) are sneaking in again. Minnesota people - contact your state senators to block that shit!
posted by jillithd at 9:35 AM on March 9, 2015


"I naïvely think these bills could be fought with ads using conventionally attractive trans women with the tagline "...so and so wants me to use the Men's Room?""

Trans woman shows how 'ridiculous' bathroom bans are with urinal selfie campaign.
posted by Corinth at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fucking awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 2:06 PM on March 9, 2015


The ridiculousness of her in a men's room just doesn't generalise though. People who would see that photo and be convinced that obviously she should use the women's bathroom are not going to look at someone like me and see the same thing.
posted by Dysk at 2:36 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


The ridiculousness of her in a men's room just doesn't generalise though.

No, but the ridiculousness of the objection does:
"Sen Don Plett said that letting transgender women use female bathrooms 'allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation that we have in place.'"
That the immediate justification for prejudice against any kind of gender nonconformity is fear of pedophilia is bonkers.
posted by psoas at 3:08 PM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, but the ridiculousness of the objection does:
"Sen Don Plett said that letting transgender women use female bathrooms 'allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation that we have in place.'"


Not necessarily. The fact that THAT trans woman is clearly a woman and not a paedophile does not mean that the same is true of me, and well, shame for the poor girl in the picture, but we can't let the paedos in so it's the lesser of two evils (or worse, we get into 'well if you make anyone uncomfortable you have to leave' or having passing police or equally degrading shit). I have seen this play out; ask me how I know...
posted by Dysk at 4:31 PM on March 10, 2015


Apparently there is currently no messaging that works for our side on the issue of trans people in bathrooms, pretty cisnormative trans woman or no pretty cisnormative trans woman, so generally any publicity about this is going to be bad publicity.
posted by Corinth at 9:18 PM on March 10, 2015


I had a conversation with a trans woman last night who's on an organizing committee for the local Pride fest. It's held at large festival grounds that are used for 20-something other festivals throughout the year. Some people want to make all the bathrooms gender neutral (just for Pridefest) and there's pushback from people! How the heck are we supposed to win over the general public when there's resistance even within the LGBT community?

FWIW I had zero trouble using the men's room at Pridefest last year and I will use whatever I feel like this year. I saw trans women also using the men's room, but I'm not sure why they felt it was the better option. I know there are TERFs afoot because the woman I was speaking to last night had been kicked out of the "women's space" (not a bathroom, just a stage & seating area) last year. It's really upsetting.
posted by desjardins at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2015


I'm not sure why they felt it was the better option. I know there are TERFs afoot...

Quite possible they're related. While I haven't set foot in a men's room in years, I totally understand feeling like it'd just be easier and much less terrifying and embarrassing to quietly use the men's than risk being outed and called out in the women's. A known pattern of the latter (or good reason to consider it likely) intensifies that feeling quite considerably.
posted by Dysk at 9:00 AM on March 11, 2015


Meanwhile, Texas is in the process of codifying how trans girls like my younger self automatically inflict mental anguish worth $2,000 on anyone who notices us using the school restroom. By our supposed chromosomes, you see.
posted by tigrrrlily at 6:01 PM on March 12, 2015


I think these bills aren't about excluding anyone per se, they're cynical political games to turn out voters.

I think that conservatives push these bills as a legal tactic to encourage or justify discrimination at the school/business level. The school/business can say, "We can't have you here, because it creates legal liabilities for us."

They previously used this strategy quite well with laws to ban non-existent same-sex marriage in the 1990s. Employers who had domestic partnership benefits scrambled to restructure their benefits packages, employers who didn't delayed adopting or implementing those benefits.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:49 AM on March 13, 2015


I think these bills aren't about excluding anyone per se, they're cynical political games to turn out voters.

I think it's more that the world is changing too fast for them. You're seeing a slow turnaround on same-sex marriage, sure, but I think it's largely due to 'They're Just Like Us' campaigns of nice suburban older gay couples who just want to be legally married and stop 'living in sin.' But there's no frame of reference for dealing with trans folk, and it must seem not only like a weird lightning that can strike anywhere, but as something that was roundly condemned most places only ten years ago, and now is getting a /lot/ of acceptance and there are starting to be laws forcing them to do what they would rather not do in a million years. So I don't think it's necessarily just cynical political games any more than any other political suggestion is - it's just a knowledge that the issue really matters to the majority of their constituents (which in those places it does) and because it's not really solidly defended by a statistically significant percentage of voters. There are a lot of things they can do that will lose them voters, but I would guess at least that a majority of the people who are upset about anti-trans legislation probably weren't planning on voting the Republican ticket anyway.
posted by corb at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2015




I just came here to post about that. Here's another article about that shitbag.
posted by desjardins at 4:28 PM on March 25, 2015


Wait, what the hell is the "conduct of a sexual nature"? Was she like "oh sexy sexy coat hanger?"
posted by corb at 4:36 PM on March 25, 2015


trans bodies, especially those of trans women, are never seen as merely existing to transphobic people - they are always seen as being engaged in the dangerous and sexual. her mere presence is all that's required for these bigots to accuse her of "conduct of a sexual nature."
posted by nadawi at 7:03 AM on March 26, 2015


Trans women get conflated with male crossdressers, whose motivations are frequently sexual. Crossdressers, in my experience, generally do not go out in public in feminine clothing, and they don't "want to be female," but there's a lot of ignorance on the subject.
posted by desjardins at 10:50 AM on March 26, 2015


(Note: I'm not excusing the shitbag's behavior as ignorance - even if her thoughts stemmed from ignorance, her behavior was malicious.)
posted by desjardins at 10:52 AM on March 26, 2015


I have the suspicion that it isn't really about the woman in question at all, or her rights. It's a publicity stunt to make bathroom bills the same-sex marriage of the next election cycle.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because it's not as if the movement that brought us Watergate, welfare queens, nuclear campaign ads, Joe the Pumber, and O'Keefe is above Ratfucking as a political strategy.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2015


That's a really good, sobering point.
posted by odinsdream at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2015


Her list of damages reads like the problems faced by trans women in all locker and bathrooms everywhere, basically:

A violation to her right to privacy that caused her “embarrassment, humiliation, and severe emotional distress.”

check

A loss of gym facilities, fear about using the gym facilities, embarrassment and humiliation, severe emotional distress, damage to reputation, and “all other damages that reasonably flow from Defendants’ outrageous behavior.”

check

“Conduct and communication of a sexual nature.”

Everyone talking about your genitals for no reason, check

The following “exemplary damages”: “aggravation, annoyance, discomfort, disgrace, feelings of oppression, humiliation, inconvenience, indignation, insult, mental anxiety, mental suffering, mortification, outrage, scorn, shame, sorrow, vexation, and worry.”

check and check.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yes, CBrachyrhynchos, that's exactly what it is: the right has rolled it into their larger ongoing anti-trans campaigns.

Meanwhile: Parental complaints have prompted a Virginia school board to reverse a decision that respected a fourth grader’s gender identity, forcing her either back into the boys’ bathroom, or into single-stall or staff restrooms.

And (TW):

When visibility doesn’t translate into support for trans teens.
Brockington died on Monday. The 18-year-old committed suicide. A year ago, he became the first trans person to be named homecoming king of his North Carolina high school. He drew lots of media attention and was celebrated widely, and now he’s dead, having seen suicide as the only way to escape the torment that accompanied the increased attention.
Our trans children and trans women of color are dying.
posted by Corinth at 9:25 PM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


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