A Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan recently revoked a woman’s membership for persistently griping about the company’s gender identity policies after seeing a transgendered woman in the locker room.
48-year-old Yvette Cornier was upset over seeing a “very manly” individual who was wearing a “wig” and “a little bit of blush” using the facilities women’s locker room while she was at the gym.
Cornier, who’d only been a member for two months at Planet Fitness went to the front desk to inquire about what had disturbed her so much. The man at the front 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,” says Cornier. She also mentioned that it wasn’t the first time they had received complaints about the member’s presence.
The front desk then suggested Cornier wait until the member had completed changing, and Cornier responded with, “How about he waits until I’m done in the women’s locker room. Or get a unisex bathroom.”
Carlotta Sklodowska has come forward as the transgender woman whose presence in the locker room offended Cornier. Skladowska says that she was stopping by the gym to work out with a friend and had simply gone into the women’s locker room to hang her coat and purse (after asking the facility’s staff which locker room to use.) Oddly, Skladowska also says she doesn’t remember seeing Cornier upset.
Cornier then followed up her initial interchange at the front desk with a phone call to the company’s corporate offices, which confirmed that this was indeed Planet Fitness’ policy and the front desk had responded accordingly. “I wouldn’t have signed up for this gym if I knew that ahead of time,” Cormier says, adding that the gym is “failing to protect me if anything happens in those locker rooms with a man.”
Over the next few days Cornier returned to the gym and “told everyone in the locker room what happened,” as to warn them of the company’s current policy – to which which she says everyone was “appalled.” Planet Fitness responded immediately by revoking Yvette’s membership at the gym, claiming that Cornier’s actions were “disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement.” Planet Fitness’ Director of Public Relations McCall Gosselin also said, “Rather, it was the manner in which her concerns were expressed that club management felt was inappropriate, which resulted in the cancellation.”
Responses to the incident have varied from support of Planet Fitness’ policies to empathy for Cornier and downright anger on both sides of the hot-button issue.
Cornier later reached out to Midland’s representative, Republican Gary Glenn for support.
Glenn predicts that the policy will backfire on Planet Fitness, with a marketable loss of memberships. “My wife has been a member at the Planet Fitness in Midland. As she characterized the situation, Planet Fitness has made clear it does not offer a family friendly environment.”
Transgender advocate Charlin Davenport expresses that the controversy is a matter of privacy and safety. Planet Fitness is protecting transgender people with their policies. “The trans woman deserves privacy as well and deserves to be comfortable as well,” says Davenport.
However, beyond issues of comfort, are potential issues of safety says Davenport. “A transgender woman would be much more at risk for her safety if she had to use the men’s bathroom.”
One of the solutions suggested by Cornier was a unisex bathroom, however Davenport also states that it would only work if the unisex restroom was optional only. “I don’t think anyone should require me to use it. I use the facility that I am comfortable with.”
He also brings up the point that nothing harmful ever took place, and zero laws (or policies) were actually broken. “Nothing illegal actually took place. No crime was committed by anybody. As far as we know, the person went into the locker room and minded their own business.”
As we move forward and continue to deal with similar discrepancies all over the country, it seems that what’s most important is maintaining a positive dialogue. Fear and misunderstanding often spark anger and frustration, but the more we hear from voices representing the transgender community, the easier it will be to quash the confused notions of people like Cornier – offering comfortable and safe environments for all parties involved.
Planet Fitness responded in line with their company policies, but what do you think about their decision?