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PureGym under fire after trans woman thrown out of changing room

PinkNews logo PinkNews 12/19/2018 Josh Jackman
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PureGym has been criticised by activists after a trans woman was forced to leave the women’s changing room because someone was “uncomfortable” with her presence.

The unnamed trans woman was asked by staff if she wanted to use the gender neutral disabled facilities—which she declined, as she’s not disabled—and whether she had undergone gender confirmation surgery, which she refused to answer, according to BuzzFeed News.

She said that after a year of being a member of the British gym company, and two months into using the women’s facilities every other day at this specific PureGym branch, she was told while she was changing that she had to leave.

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“The manager said that men weren’t allowed in the women’s locker room,” she recalled.

Telling the manager that she was a trans woman, not a man, didn’t help.

“She said: ‘I’m afraid you have to leave’ because someone was made uncomfortable by me being in there.”

When the manager asked her outside of the changing room if she had had surgery, the trans woman asked if the question was related to PureGym’s policy, to which the manager said she didn’t know.

Trans woman explains why she spoke out

The trans woman has not returned to the PureGym branch since the incident, and has not found a different gym which makes her feel welcome.

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She said she spoke out because she wanted PureGym “to realise there is that gap, and you need that training to take into consideration our experiences.”

It was also her hope that the story would reveal a fraction of the struggle endured by trans people in Britain.

“I’ve heard from other trans women that they’ve felt ashamed, or humiliated,” she said. “I guess I just want people to know that if you’re trying to go to the gym and have a workout, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Activists hit out at PureGym’s treatment of trans woman

Advocates have spoken out about their frustration and outrage over the incident.

Lisa Severn, a pansexual trans woman, tweeted: “Very unimpressed with @PureGym over this.”

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Lily Madigan, who was the first trans woman to hold the role of Women’s Officer in the Labour Party, wrote: “I don’t go to the gym because I’m too scared of things like this.

“It’s really s**t feeling unable to go. Imagine how you would feel.”

And trans activist Shon Faye hit out at “tedious wankers” who criticise her for perpetuating stereotypes when it comes to how she views women, tweeting that “those stereotypes stop s**t like this happening to me the three times a week I use PureGym.”

PureGym confirms incident with trans woman happened and responds

PureGym responded with a statement, saying: “On this occasion, PureGym staff contacted the member discreetly, following questions from other members, to agree a solution on the appropriate changing facilities.”

“We would still value the opportunity to discuss this matter with the member and agree an appropriate solution.

“PureGym’s mission is to make fitness accessible to all and ‘Everybody Welcome’ is at the heart of everything we do,” the statement continued.

“That core principle underpins our clear guidance to staff when supporting transgender access, which is itself based on industry guidelines.

“In addition to male and female changing rooms, our gyms offer separate changing facilities and we support members to use the changing facilities that are best for them and take into consideration other members.

“PureGym has a zero-tolerance policy on any transphobic behaviour from staff or other members,” they added.

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