A Michigan woman is fighting to keep transgender persons out of the women’s locker room at her local gym.
Yvette Cormier lost the first round when a county judge dismissed her complaints over a “judgment-free policy” that allows transgender individuals to use the locker room of their choice at the Planet Fitness where she is a member. She has appealed.
“Think about it this way: You wouldn’t want men to be allowed to shower and dress with your 15-year-old daughter,” Cormier’s lawyer, David Kallman, told The Daily Signal.
Cormier originally complained after unsuspectingly encountering a transgender person, identified as Carlotta Sklodowska, in the women’s locker room of the Planet Fitness in Midland, Mich., on Feb. 28, 2015.
After checking with a front desk employee and a Planet Fitness corporate office, Cormier discovered that the corporation’s’ “no judgment policy” means the gym does not judge who is male and who is female, even when it comes to locker room use.
Cormier, of Sanford, Mich., filed suit in March against two Planet Fitness entities—PF Fitness-Midland LLC in Michigan and Pla-Fit Franchise LLC in New Hampshire—alleging that the gym had violated her civil rights under state law as well as invaded her privacy and breached its contract with her.
Lawyers for Planet Fitness asked the court to dismiss the case.
Midland County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Beale did so Jan. 4, writing that the gym’s “inclusive” policy did not “go beyond the bounds of decency.”
Cormier appealed Jan. 28.
In response to Planet Fitness’ motion to dismiss, Cormier’s lawyers asked:
What is their ‘judgment-free zone’ supposed to mean? Does it mean, as their actions imply, that they lack all sense of judgment? Does it mean their customers cannot exercise any judgment in what they wear, or say, or do while in the facility? Or does it mean customers can exercise in the buff, knowing they will not be ‘judged’ for doing so?
Beale dismissed Cormier’s invasion of privacy complaint, explaining that after being told about the “judgment-free” policy, she should have known the women’s locker rooms at Planet Fitness were not for women alone.
Beale also dismissed Cormier’s privacy and civil rights complaints on the grounds that they asserted a harm that could happen rather than harm that did happen as a result of the Planet Fitness policy.
The judge’s opinion “ignores the fact that Planet Fitness’ policy allowing the presence of a man in the women’s locker room when women are in various stages of undress is offensive behavior in and of itself,” Kallman Legal Group, which represented Cormier, said in a press release.
“A woman should not have to wait until she is viewed naked by a man, or until worse objectionable behavior occurs, in order to secure legal protection.”
Michigan state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said he hopes the Michigan Court of Appeals will take the case.
“The man in this case defines himself as a ‘male slut-in-training,’” Glenn told The Daily Signal, citing statements on Sklodowska’s Facebook page. “Even he defines himself as a male. It is not difficult to explain why a woman would be uncomfortable in the same locker room.”
Glenn said the case is one example of what he expects to be widespread behavior if Michigan adopts “gender identity” legislation.
“I am hopeful that the rights, comfort, and safety of women will be protected,” he said.
The LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan praised Planet Fitness for its sensitivity to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
“This incident clearly illustrates that those who are most in danger in sex-segregated spaces are transgender and gender-variant people, and we congratulate Planet Fitness on valuing the safety of our most marginalized and targeted people,” Yvonne Siferd, Equality Michigan’s director of victim services, said in a formal statement in March.
“Equality Michigan hopes that more businesses follow Planet Fitness’ lead and create more safe spaces for their customers who are under attack just for being their authentic selves.”
Kallman told The Daily Signal he plans to file Cormier’s appeal brief in a month or so, after which Planet Fitness will file its legal briefs, with oral arguments likely to follow.
Planet Fitness declined to comment.