Planet Fitness: Where competing freedoms collide

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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121 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph
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    says:

    For most places, “just build a whole bunch of unisex locker rooms and bathrooms” isn’t economically feasible.

    Query: Heavy curtain dividers (such as are used in hospitals) are relatively cheap, and easily reconfigurable in response to demand (need more space for one group or another, or space for a few individuals with unique needs, open/draw the curtains as needed). Why is this not a decent option going forward, and even for some retrofits, for bathrooms and showers and locker rooms?

    I realize a curtain doesn’t offer much privacy/security, but it’s not like a common bathroom stall offers all that much more.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq
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    The sensible solution would be to get rid of the concept of gendered bathrooms and locker rooms and just have everybody change in front of each other.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      This would lead to whole new layers of age discrimination; I know this because I know that you really don’t want to see old ladies changing; and more importantly, those old ladies, for the most part, don’t want to be seen without their old-lady camo on.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to zic
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        says:

        Old men, on the other hand….Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic
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        says:

        Interestingly old men seem not to give a fuck. The old men just basically hang it all out at the gym. It is us younger guys that try for a sense of decorum.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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        says:

        I edited that part of my comment out for just those reasons.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic
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        says:

        I prefer to see it as “a healthy body positivity”.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic
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        Than you separate bathrooms on the basis of age rather than gender. ;). This might get a bit messy with the kids though.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to zic
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        says:

        I prefer to see it as “a healthy body positivity”.

        I suspect there may be something to that – that men have largely thought of their bodies in terms of their capabilities and characteristics, in their own light. A thing for moving, for sensing, for working, for carrying. Clearly, they reflect light, and that light reaches the pupils of other people’s eyes, but the appearance of their bodies isn’t a central characteristic.

        And the lovely dynamic whereby Hollywood inevitably casts a woman and a man with only a few years between them as mother and son.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to zic
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        says:

        @dragonfrog

        Tangentially, Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are less than 6 years apart, and she played his girlfriend’s mother in The GraduateReport

  3. Avatar Miss Mary
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    Ben and Jerry’s or Tillamook all the way.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    As the audience to conversations about rape culture grows, I suspect, we are going to gradually have to come to terms with the fact that the actions one person might perceive as innocent another might perceive as hostile and, sometimes, overtly sexual.

    This is absolutely correct I think. But, let’s not forget in the coming to terms that sometimes one or the other is utterly full of it.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      That paragraph continues: After having spent the last three weeks researching sex crimes and sex offenders, I am well aware that having what appears to most people as being a naked man undressing in your locker room can be as traumatic for some women as it is for a transgender who identifies as a women to have to use a men’s locker room.

      There is another things to consider: first, there are probably feminine markers on a trans woman’s body, most particularly breasts that are developed and womanly; particularly if she’s begun HRT; and some serious concerns about having her use the men’s locker room. Transgender men and women both seem to have experience/to experience shockingly high rates of sexual assault. http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.htmlReport

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to zic
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        says:

        It’s a fair concern, but it’s still a question of how far we can really organize a public space to protect all the people who have been traumatized from being triggered before it becomes unreasonable to everyone else. It seems completely fair that Planet Fitness should make their policy clear to everyone who comes there, so they all know that they might be undressing near someone who identifies as their gender but was born of the opposite gender. But it seems less fair that someone who identifies as female and may well be in the process of transitioning should be told that the discomfort that someone else might feel about their presence trumps their own discomfort at using a locker room for a gender with which they don’t identify.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to zic
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        says:

        It’s worth noting that structurally similarly arguments were used to justify racial segregation in restrooms during Jim Crow. Now clearly race is not the same as gender. On the other hand, mere “discomfort” is not a sufficient argument. We need to look at that discomfort and decide if it is justified.

        With regard to restrooms, far more trans people are abused and assaulted by cis people than the reverse. In fact, the differences are stark. Thus we trans folks have justification for discomfort, not cis people.

        These groups are trying to make an issue out of what is, in reality, the biggest non-issue imaginable. And the sickening irony of it all is that campaigns like these, where cis people’s unreasonable fears are inexplicably treated as valid, are exactly why we as trans women have every reason to be afraid. When their discomfort over nothing is elevated to a no-questions-asked veto power over our restroom access, this teaches people that they’re right to see us as a danger, and that they’re justified in taking action against us. It encourages cis people everywhere to appoint themselves as bathroom vigilantes, policing restrooms for any sign that a trans person might be trying to use the facilities.

        And they think they’re the ones who are uncomfortable? They’re the ones who are “a little bit nervous”? We’re the ones who have to live in the constant fear that just using the restroom might mean encountering someone who doesn’t like how our faces look, how our voices sound, how our necks are shaped, or how tall we are. We have to live with the possibility that at any moment, no matter how unimpeachable our behavior may be, cis people can single us out, question the legitimacy of our gender, and make such an issue of it that it becomes a worldwide headline. And the world will think we’re the ones who did something wrong. We fear this because it’s actually happened countless times before, and it’s certainly going to happen again. Each of us fears that we might be next.

        So let me be clear: When cis people talk about how unsafe they feel around us, I do not care. Just because they’re distressed at simply being around someone who’s trans, that doesn’t mean anything has to be done about this. It doesn’t mean we’re the problem here. Their discomfort with something harmless does not need to be accommodated at the expense of others – it doesn’t create any sort of moral imperative to be imposed upon us, and it doesn’t obligate us as trans women to cater to their baseless anxieties.

        They have the luxury of being taken far too seriously when they fear a nonexistent threat. Meanwhile, we’re faced with suspicion, harassment, global media exposure, and even violence – for no reason at all. Campaigns like these are not just groundless, they are not just wrong, they are precisely backwards: Cis people are not the ones who are threatened by us. We are the ones who are threatened by them.

        (From http://www.transadvocate.com/transgender-women-in-womens-restrooms-a-purely-imagined-harm_n_10762.htm.)Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to zic
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        I agree completely with @veronica-d

        And I think it’s important for everyone to realize that men (And let’s admit, it’s really men we’re talking about here.) dressing up as women to assault or just spy on women essentially does not happen. Oh, I’m sure there is some instance of it happening once, somewhere. But it is not something that, in any meaningful sense, happens.

        In the case of ‘spying’, there are a million instances of men hiding cameras or poking holes in walls or just physically hiding themselves for every single example of a man dressing as a woman.

        And in the case of assault…the entire determination of that is if the woman is alone or not….men can’t *secretly* assault women by dressing as women. Is the theory here that locker rooms are *guarded* and men are sneaking past the guard by dressing as women? Because…uh…locker rooms aren’t, and if they were that would mean there would be people nearby, so that’s not where assault would happen. (It would instead happen in the parking lot.)

        Flashing back two decades, we had the same stupid worry about ‘teh gays in the locker room’. Which, ironically, was slightly less stupid, if you accepted the premise that ‘People have the right not to have other people fantasize about them’. This premise, of course, is completely insane, and notably only pushed only by men…while women just *stared in astonishment* at the words coming out of men’s mouths, and then fell on the floor laughing. But the problem *sorta* made sense, if you accepted that dumbass premise.

        This ‘problem’, OTOH, doesn’t make sense to start with. Women have a right not to be seen naked by someone who has a penis? What sort of weird theory is that?

        I think the theory is more ‘Women have a right not to be seen naked by anyone they don’t want to see them naked.’. Which is an entirely reasonable theory, but has *nothing* to do with trans people, and perhaps indicated we should try cutting back on *public* showers and changing areas. But apparently we’re too dumb to build doors.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    My college had co-ed bathrooms. The shower stalls were small and individual and came with a little antechamber where you can keep your towel and underwear or clothing. I think parents were concerned but not necessarily the kids I went to school with.

    I suspect that this is going to be a big issue for the left for a variety of reasons:

    1. There was an article in the New Yorker (I think) about a year or so ago about the issues and frictions between radical feminists (especially older ones who remember the movement from the 1970s) and M to F transgendered people. There was something about how older radical feminists still view M to F transgendered people as having male privilege because they are “choosing” to be female.

    2. There is also the issue about how single-sex colleges (which are mainly all-female) should react or change to transgendered students. Wellesley just announced that they would accept Male to Female transgender students. A while ago there was an article about Female to Male transgender students at colleges like Wellesley. Meanwhile, Sweet Briar College in Virginia just announced that they are shutting down (despite having a healthy 94 million dollar endowment) because there is not much of an interest in attending an all-female college in a rural environment (I guess Western Mass doesn’t count as rural because Smith and Mount Holyoke are part of a 5-college consortium that includes co-ed colleges such as Amherst, UMass, and Hampshire.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Included in the Wellesley decision was essentially counseling out female-to-male transgender students.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy
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        Counseling out meaning getting them to transfer?

        I wonder what would happen if euphemisms and spin were suddenly unavailable to the entirety of humanity?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @saul-degraw

        I don’t think counseling out is a euphemism at all. It is a separate process from expulsion. I mean, you could call it “forced transfer” but it generally does involve a degree of counseling in terms of why the decision was made and what opportunities are available to the student elsewhere. They generally aren’t just sent to the wolves. Plus, students may not transfer. They may simply withdraw from school entirely… temporarily or permanently. So, “counseling out” is not a euphemism even if you want it to be.

        And from what I read in the Wellesley situation (all statements made directly by the school), they are at least talking-the-talk of making it a supportive experience for the departing students.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kazzy
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        Kazzy, if, say, SAE were ‘counseling out’ African American students from rushing their fraternity, we certainly wouldn’t be sanguine about the process.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @kolohe

        But are they actually counseling them out? Or throwing them out? Counseling out is a very real thing. A specific process. Throwing someone out and calling it counseling them out is wrong. But counseling someone out and counseling them out is not.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kazzy
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        There are legitimate reasons for a school to approach a student in a mentoring capacity and tell them it’s probably in their interest to go to a different school. “We can no longer provide the major you were interested in”. “You are never going to be the starting quarterback”

        If a student is approached by the school, and that student is in academic good standing and hasn’t violated any code of conduct policies, I am going to treat with strictest of scrutiny the college’s aims in ‘counseling’ the student. “it’s not you, it’s us” doesn’t cut it. Because that means “it’s you”.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Kazzy
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        You say “counsel”, I say “coerce”. Which of us is right?

        You can honestly, nicely, and with the best of intentions explain that I just don’t fit in here and the college really can’t provide the kind of environment I really need and I’d probably be much more comfortable at a school that’s better suited to me. And I can say “listen, cracker, I guess I’m sorry that I make your lily-white kids’ parents uncomfortable, but I will go to college where I damn well choose”.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        As an aside, can we retire the “female to male” and “male to female” stuff? It’s very alienating. Chose simply “trans women” (for gals like me) and “trans men” (for men).

        I was never really “male.” Nor did I change who I really am. There is no “X to Y”. This is only veronica.

        Thank you.

        #####

        There is an obvious sense that trans men do not belong in all-women’s colleges. I mean, this is simple logic. On the other hand, it would be pretty shitty to just throw these guys out on their ass. They’re good people going through some hard shit. They deserve support. So what to do?

        I don’t know what “counseling out” will mean in practice, but we can hope it will be handled well rather than poorly. But in the end, it is valid. It confirms the true gender of trans men.

        There is a whole subtext to this you may not know, where trans men are assigned a kinda middle position. We call the phenomenon “men lite” — the idea that a trans guy is well actually really kinda still not totally a guy and like he can still totes hang with the lesbians.

        Which, fuck that shit forever. Trans men are men.

        They’re gorgeous, wonderful, and amazing men, but men all the same.

        Sounds to me like Wellesley is getting it right, at least in principle. It all depends on the execution. I wish them luck.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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        If a woman’s school really wants to counsel out trans-men that those trans-men are owed financial compensation for what they already paid to the school regardless of the method of payment. Tuition, room & boarding, and text book fees should be returned. Anything else amounts to unjust enrichment for the school. The trans men were admitted and than excluded for no fault of their own but for a change of policy.

        The schools must also make sure that the trans men students are admitted into a college or university and must actively help in the transfer process including paying all fees necessary to transfer.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      The article was written by Michelle Goldberg in August 2014 for the New Yorker.

      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/08/04/woman-2Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Apparently at American, the girls just used the boys bathroom because there was more space.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    This hypothetical has bounced around in my head a bit. I know people who have attended conferences that completely eschewed sex/gender divisions, turning all bathrooms into unisex. On the one hand, I thought, “Wow. Go them!” On the other, I thought, “But far be it from me to tell a woman she’s gotta deal with penis in her bathroom.”

    Yea, I dont’ know which way to skin this cat. Hopefully, situations like this will lead to fruitful, constructive dialogues wherein an effective compromise can be found that balances all the competing interests.

    And, yes, Tod, I sincerely agree with your general argument that such situations are rarely tyranny v freedom.Report

  7. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    Tod, I’m glad you posted this although I don’t have the brain cells to comment substantively on it at the moment. I did have a style suggestion though – it’s generally considered rude / awkward to use the word transgender as a noun (which you do a couple of times in this piece) … see the end of the first answer on this FAQ page from GLAAD (it explains why there too).Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Maribou
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      Thanks. I wasn’t even aware I had done it. I’ll change now.Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to Maribou
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      Wait, no, that page doesn’t explain why. But it’s basically about not making the person into the adjective (even when the adjective is the most relevant part of the story), because people are more than their adjectives. The same way it’s better to say “people who have disabilities” (or people who live with disabilities) rather than “the disabled”.

      Whether or not you think that’s overthinking it, it signals, very loudly, to many people who are part of the community under discussion, that you don’t respect their communication norms. Which I am quite sure you don’t want to do.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Maribou
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        That justification is beyond me. The odd thing is that both male and female are both nouns and adjectives. I believe that sort of nitpickiness does more harm than good.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Maribou
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        @mo

        I think male and female are only sometimes used as nouns. You might say, “He’s a male.” But you’re unlikely to say, “Will all the males in the room stand up?” I mean, you could say that but you’d probably be more likely to say, “Will all the men in the room stand up?”

        And those terms are generally unique with regards to identifiers. We don’t say “the black” or “the Jew”.

        Given the history of how transgender folk have had language used against them, it seems reasonable to just defer to their preferences on the matter. Especially since they aren’t particularly deviating from most identifying conventions.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Maribou
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        @mo Do you have an opinion on referring to somebody as “a black” vs. “a black person?” To my ear, this is the same distinction and the former is quite rude, but I’m genuinely unsure how this sounds to others or if I’m being unreasonable.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Maribou
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        Argh, @kazzy just made this point. I need to get better about reading all of the previous comments, rather than reading almost all of them and then scanning the rest.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Maribou
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        For that matter, even though it’s linguistically correct to use “male” and “female” as nouns, that use either comes of as very impersonal or simply rude in most contexts. It calls to mind an academic study, a description of a robbery suspect, or (in the case of “female”) the sort of terminology used by misogynist 4channers.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Maribou
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        @kazzy and @don-zeko But a lot of this seems to be based on the adjective. You could say, “the Arab” or “the African-American” and no one would bat an eye.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Maribou
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        says:

        @mo

        With all due respect, i never understand why the grammar police come out when it comes to folks from historically marginalized groups and/or with marked identities and their preferred terms for self-identification. Common decency says to refer to people in the manner in which they prefer. I mean, no one points out, “Hey, it doesn’t make sense to spell ‘Sean’ that way.” But godforbid transgender folks collectively say, “Hey, we don’t care about grammar or precedent… this is just what we want to be called.”

        I’m not saying your harbor any ill motive. I just question why their request to be identified a certain way is met with anything other than, “But of course!”.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Maribou
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        says:

        Kazzy,
        ” Common decency says to refer to people in the manner in which they prefer.”
        … but if you call Booker T. Washington a Negro, people get upset.
        I say, if someone fought to be called a particular name, you ought to call them that.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Maribou
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        @kazzy I don’t do this out of ill will. I find nit picking over nouning adjectives to be exhausting and counterproductive to the cause. This isn’t a case of a term being offensive (saying “a n- person” is just as offensive as saying “a n-“). There’s a difference between saying “Oriental is an offensive term, the appropriate term is Asian,” and “This term is appropriate as an adjective, but not as a noun.” Most people don’t think of the lexicographical category of the words they use (as anyone who has been in a meeting in corporate America has seen). Admittedly, I find language prescriptivists in casual writing and conversation to be tedious.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Maribou
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        This stuff isn’t actually important in some cosmic sense. Which, if someone says I’m “transgendered” rather than “transgender” (or whatever) — well that seems rather tame compared to the people who spit on me.

        On the other hand, it sounds off, simply because that’s not how we trans folks use the words. Which is really stylistics rather than deep social justice.

        But we do care. We just do. It’s just the sound of it all. The way it hits our ears.

        Not all of us! Duh obviously! But a lot of us.

        Anyway, you’ll find all sorts of elaborate linguistic justifications for this, full of bogus grammar theories and all kinds of flimsy psychological justifications. It’s all rubbish.

        On the other hand, please follow the Glaad guides. Please listen to how we want our labels used. It matters cuz it sounds right to us. It signals that you pay attention and that you care.Report

  8. Avatar Road Scholar
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    says:

    I’d be interested in unpacking what the woman’s specific complaint/concern was.

    Is it about just seeing a penis? Because I use public restrooms, on average, six days out of every seven and I somehow manage to do so without ever actually seeing another man’s pecker. If I consciously tried to look I could probably manage to see one now and then but I’d also likely manage to get popped in the snoot with some regularity as well.

    It’s not some kind of superpower or anything. It’s just observing a basic social norm in that kind of situation. To whit, Don’t Ogle. Straight or gay, male, female, or otherwise, it’s just rude and creepy. Eyes Up!

    Is it about the possibility of unwanted sexual attention from someone she perceives as the opposite gender? I have no clue as to how the numbers would shake out but wouldn’t most trans women be attracted to men anyway? And if it’s just about being viewed in the buff by someone who might find her attractive, she does know that lesbians exist and she’s very likely been changing in front of them her whole life, right?

    The only sorta legitimate concern I can see is the idea that a straight guy could take advantage of the rule to claim transgenderism and then perve out or worse in the shower room. I would think such a thing would be fairly obvious (Eyes Up!) and dealt with expeditiously.

    I guess it boils down to whether any such legitimate(ish) concerns and/or genuine discomfort justify discrimination against the transgendered. I big issue here is that quite a few people simply don’t believe that trans is a real thing, or that at best it’s a weird perversion. If that’s your genuine belief it’s a hard sell to convince you to accommodate it.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Road Scholar
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      When I was a kid, we were still getting over the removal of homosexuality from the DSM and transgenderism was still seen as halfway between a sexual fetish (though they didn’t use language anywhere near that neutral) and body dysmorphia.

      By the time I got to college, the arguments about transgenderism ranged between the spectrum of “those poor people need to be cured” to “those poor people need to be accommodated the way we accommodate people in wheelchairs”.

      The culture even among the progressive set at this point in time was one that said that the proper response began from a place of pity and evolved from there.

      Now, being homosexual and being transgender are not particularly analogous but the response of society to either issue is somewhat analogous. To be sure, “those poor people are broken and need to be fixed/accommodated” is a hell of a lot better than “let’s beat those people up”, it’s still not the right response. It seems that we’ve reached the point where the proper response to homosexuality is “Some people are gay. Get over it.” And the goal is to have homosexuality be seen as uninteresting. Two guys are gay? It’d be like pointing out that two guys have curly hair.

      In the same way, it seems to me that the proper end state for finding out that someone is transgender is to shrug in the same way that we shrug about homosexuality.

      (Of course, tomorrow, it may come out that my gender essentialism is problematic and the fact that I’m locked into this paradigm where I see it as a toggle instead of seeing it as a continuum means that I just don’t get it. Or maybe that’s today.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird
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        The issue is that you’re saying “get over it” to women who have expressed concern over a biological man standing in the place where they take their clothes off. And, historically, when people have said “get over it” to women, the people doing the saying have been the wrong ones.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar
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      says:

      @road-scholar
      The only sorta legitimate concern I can see is the idea that a straight guy could take advantage of the rule to claim transgenderism and then perve out or worse in the shower room. I would think such a thing would be fairly obvious (Eyes Up!) and dealt with expeditiously.

      That is a ‘legitimate concern’ in the way that Halloween candy laced with drugs is a legitimate concern or Satanic cults sacrificing their children to Satan is a legitimate concern.

      In that it is something that *could hypothetically happen*, but does not actually happen.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to DavidTC
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        Of course, lots of pretty crappy laws have been passed and tons more proposed based on the the idea that something which happened (maybe) once, could hypothetically happen again, and thus we’d best have a law ready to make sure it doesn’t.Report

  9. Avatar James Pearce
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    “The transgendered locker room/bathroom issue puts two competing freedoms in opposition. The first, obviously, is the freedom for a person to self-identify as they wish (or indeed, are born to) without being ostracized or made to feel uncomfortable. But there is also the competing freedom of being able to not have people you perceive of the opposite sex watch you undress, shower, or use the facilities.”

    Your point about competing freedoms is a good one, but I’m not sure this is a very good application of it.

    Wasn’t the complaint “There’s a man in the woman’s locker room” rather than “A man in the woman’s locker room was watching me undress?” I’m assuming, of course, that if anything untoward –beyond being the “wrong” person in the “wrong” locker room- had been reported, that Planet Fitness would have reacted quite differently.

    I certainly understand locker room discomfort but I also think the line should be drawn at a less arbitrary point. Me, I’m in some dark corner, hiding behind a towel. Across the room, it’s balls out glory, the other guys with not a care in the world. Everyone has a different threshold.

    If it’s the freedom not to be ogled in the locker room that we want to protect, we can do that without forcing transgendered people into locker room dilemmas. Maybe these freedoms aren’t competing that much after all.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Pearce
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      Excellent point, @james-pearce .

      Though if I wonder if I’m inclined to agree in part because I am a male and tend to experience “oggling” — and all that comes with it — in a different way than most females.Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    The gym-rat chain Planet Fitness

    It’s part of Planet Fitness’s ostensible brand to *not* be a hang out for ‘gym rats’. The PR flack’s spin specifically is that the woman who complained wasn’t dismissed because she complained (i.e. trying to assert her side of the competing rights, as you put it), but because she complained in such a manner that made her a ‘lunk’.

    (and as other has said, the competing rights dilemma is the easiest for private property, and the easiest for a libertarian to slice the gordian knot. The golden rule – the one who has the gold, makes the rule.)Report

    • Avatar Lab Rat in reply to Kolohe
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      I worked at a gym in college and got to know the owner pretty well. The way he described it, the 80/20 rule works almost completely in reverse. Twenty percent of the customers make up 80% of the people actually using the gym, but they put wear on the expensive equipment and cost the gym money. To survive and make a profit, gyms need to sell contracted, auto-renewing memberships to the demographics least likely to ever come in an actually use the equipment.

      Planet fitness has an amazing scam. Their entire marketing ploy is kicking out “lunks” and gym rats, to create a safe, non-judgmental environment. What it really does is minimize maintenance cost and fill their year-long, contracted memberships with people who’ll stop coming in February, but keep their automatic membership for three years.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        This is…kinda genius, if true. I am now going to spend my day trying to think of another business in which I can convince the people who most need a particular service to BUY it, yet not USE it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Look at self-improvement areas that require effort.

        Given society’s conflation of “caring about something” with “spending money on something”, all you need to do is find the price that people who merely want to yell “Hey, I do X!” are willing to pay.

        Of course, you have to figure out what X is…Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Stop smoking programs. Hell, if you were really unscrupulous you could just build the behavioral triggers into the program so that a substantial portion of your clients will relapse and quit the program.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        ….Whoa.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird – from what I understand, people who buy X will definitely use it, so that’s no good.

        @chris – the program would have to be something where a product they don’t really want to use in lieu of cigarettes is promised them, knowing they won’t take (much of) it.

        Something like, “For $150/yr, you can have all the nicotine patches you want – just reorder whenever you need more (after your initial shipment of 5 patches)”, knowing full well that most will relapse to cigs before they get through the first five patches.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Sounds awesome. Let’s put a business plan together.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Vape juice.

        Brag about how the first shipment will have full nicotine, the second 75%, and on down.

        Eventually you can just send people Flavor-Aid.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s ridiculous. A successful business is based on mutually advantageous transactions which increase wealth. You must be some kind of Commie to suggest otherwise.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        To the extent that there is societal benefit to be gained in yelling “I CARE! I SPEND MONEY!!!”, there is mutual benefit to be gained in provision of a place where people can give the money they’re using to signal of the depth of their feelings.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird Actually,youd want progressively weaker wicks and coils. Cut down on the nicotine and people may just vape more. That happens to me every time I reduce the nicotine level.

        Crappy wicks and coils, on the other hand, make me miss cigarettes.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        This is…kinda genius, if true. I am now going to spend my day trying to think of another business in which I can convince the people who most need a particular service to BUY it, yet not USE it

        Prudential, Allstate, Geico, etc beat you to the punch on that years ago.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        @kolohe DANGIT!Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        By definition the 80/20 rule HAS to work in reverse.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Call it the 80/80 ruleReport

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        @lab-rat

        This is an interesting point:

        Planet fitness has an amazing scam. Their entire marketing ploy is kicking out “lunks” and gym rats, to create a safe, non-judgmental environment. What it really does is minimize maintenance cost and fill their year-long, contracted memberships with people who’ll stop coming in February, but keep their automatic membership for three years.

        I’m not sure how keeping out the “lunks” translates to lower maintenance costs. The “lunks” are the ones that are more likely to spend the bulk of their time training with free weights (barbells and heavier dumb bells). Aside from the cost of the initial investment, there’s little that needs to be done with them until they’re replaced.

        Although I’ve never operated a gym, I’d hypothesize that the bulk of the maintenance costs are due to the various cardio machines which will get a lot of use at a place like Planet Fitness and probably require more periodic servicing.

        The dynamic you describe is correct, and I don’t disagree with it. However, I don’t know if Planet Fitness is at an advantage with its business model. If it is, I’d shift the percentages to 90/10 if only because it’s so cheap that it can attract that many more people that don’t mind spending $10 a month for an option to go to a gym.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Lab Rat
        Ignored
        says:

        Planet Fitness doesn’t push much of anyone except in this case as far as i’ve ever heard. At the PF i go to there are many people who are regulars and in some cases they are very fit. A few look like body builders. It isn’t’ a gym for people who don’t’ go to the gym; its just a cheap gym with an ad campaign to draw in people who aren’t comfortable at other gyms. There are plenty of “gym rats” at PF. Lots of teens and early 20’s and clearly some military guys.Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    @tod-kelly

    Re: Competitive Freedoms

    I don’t know about this as much as people seem to have very different definitions of freedom.

    In a representative democracy, only a few cranks and franchiseless teenagers are going to do things like openly flirt with fascism and other forms of non-democratic government. This usually is in the form of a teenage boy saying something like “The problem with fascism is that people like me are never in charge.”

    What this seems to mean for the United States is that everyone defines themselves as being the party of freedom and liberty. Actually that is not true. The Democratic Party doesn’t seem to use the words freedom or liberty with the same, well, freedom as the Republican Party.

    The GOP masks their social fascism by talking about freedom (aka the freedom to be a bigot) and/or focusing on freedom as being a purely economic concern and not anything to do with social liberty and the right of non-discrimination.

    As to your last sentences, life is filled with complicated and morally compromised choices. I am always amazed by two things in adults:

    1. That people get shocked, shocked when people disagree with them. There are 300 million people in the U.S. and we are all supposed to agree on everything!!!? Get real; and

    2. The sheer amount of adults who are seemingly incapable of realizing that the world is filled with complicated and ethically murky decisions and want everything to be as bright and clear as a kindergarten class. Being an adult means needing to make tough decisions between equally or close to equally compelling arguments and choices.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      “I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democrat.” The Democratic Party always had a difficult time coming down with a concise statement of what they believe or expressing themselves in ideological language or words compared to the Republican Party. There are probably many reasons for that. From about the late 19th century to the 1968 Democratic Convention, the Democratic Party was the party of overt white racists and the people who would have been in a socialist party in a different political system and many people inbetween. Naturally, a coalition like this would have difficulty expressing what they believe in a concrete form. These days the Democratic Party contains everybody from former liberal Republicans to Far Leftists who are realistic about how things work in American politics. There is more ideological unification than there was in the past but not quite like there is in the Republican Party. In a heterodox party, vaguness is necessary to keep the coalition together.

      I think a lot of Democratic Party members are also turned off by using words like freedom or liberty as buzzwords because it would be like adapting some of the things they really hate about the modern Republican Party, mainly all the ra-ra rallies. Many Democratic Party members would relish in ra-ra speeches about inequality and related issues of importance to them but an equal amount or many more Democratic Party members prefer more calm behavior in their politicians. At least this is what the polls and research tells us. If a significant portion of your base wants you to behave in a particular way than you are going to behave in that way.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        The overarching theme of the Democratic Party is “At least we aren’t Republicans”.

        There is nothing wrong with being the big tent party. However, it is difficult to keep all of your constituencies happy. I am an ACLU Democrat, and I don’t like the way my party panders to racial minorities and LBGTQ. However, I recognize that a party comprised of just ACLU Democrats is a fringe party at best.

        If the Republican Party disappeared tomorrow, the Democratic Party would immediately splinter into at least two distinct parties.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah. This is my perennial argument with Superdestroyer when he brings up the One-Party Future.

        The GOP doesn’t even have to disappear, just become irrelevant. Democrats just have to stop being afraid of it. Which is, to be fair, nigh-impossible until some time after the 2020 census.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @scarletnumber

        I am an ACLU Democrat, and I don’t like the way my party panders to racial minorities and LBGTQ.

        Um, what? I’ll gladly admit that there are some pretty big rifts in the democratic caucus, but I don’t think there’s much of a rift between minority interests and the ACLU.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @alan-scott

        I would say it is more the other way around. Democrats who primarily care about minority/LBGTQ issues tend to be focused on just that. Furthermore, they are fighting for the right to be the Democratic Party Favorite Aggrieved Group.

        From a personal standpoint, I don’t care about such issues. However, you are probably correct that most ACLU Democrats do care about them, at least somewhat.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        If there was a group of Nazis who wanted to march, you just know that the ACLU would represent them.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        You know who else defended marching Nazis?Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @scarletnumber , I guess I’m just completely confused by what you mean by “ACLU Democrat”. I’m confused as to why someone would adopt that label if they don’t care about substantive civil rights issues.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Now that I think about it, it’s funny how when the ACLU fights for the right of Nazis to demonstrate, nobody accuses them of being closeted Nazis, but when libertarians defend the right of business owners to run their businesses without having the government second-guessing their personnel decisions, it’s obviously because we’re racist.

        Putting aside the merits and demerits of antidiscrimination laws as applied to private businesses, you’d think people would at least be able to generalize the principle that tolerating something is not the same as endorsing it.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Plenty of people hated the ACLU for defending the Nazi right to march. They were told they were risking the lives of Jews, pissing on the graves of those who died in the Holocaust and were complicit in risking another Holocaust. There was plenty of nasty things said about the ACLU.

        I also have a cousin who thinks the ACLU is “COMMUNIST.” It not quite clear why but i think it has to do with defending the rights of criminals and athiests. ( not that those make any sense, but there you go).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris Well played.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      As to your last two points, there are lots of issues where compromise really isn’t possible. We either have the death penalty or we don’t. There isn’t much of an in-between ground. A lot of the dividing points in American politics that produce the most vitirol are on issues that are very ideological without a compromise position of sorts.

      The other thing is that I don’t think that being an adult means recognizing the world is a murky place. Lots of adults, including people with a lot of power, saw things in Manchinean terms for much of history. Its how humans make sense of a senseless universe. Ideology is often just as dogmatic as a religion just without divinities or regular ceremonies and holidays. The only way to really get rid of or reduce Manchinean thinking in politics is to return to a type of politics that is all about the power and glory of the monarch and his aristocratic cronies rather than the good of society as a whole. Any sort of politics that is at least theoretically based on the good of society and the private, ordinary individual is always going to involve some black and white thought because people are always going to conflict of what is good for society as a whole, the ordinary priviate individual, and how to achieve it. You and I might see the mid-20th century European welfare state as close to heaven on earth as possible but lots of people chaffe at the idea. They think the good society is one of the free market with a limited government because it allows for most free individual action.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      People’s definition of freedom is “I should be able to do what I want, and if that means you have to pay for it and I don’t, that’s fine. Nor do you get to object.” That’s the case for both sides, depending upon where they fall upon the “free stuff” account.

      “The GOP masks their social fascism…….” Yep and the Dems mask their social fascism with mantra of “you have the right to (insert topic du jour)”

      The real issue is that none of that crap are freedoms.Report

  12. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    As far as gyms go, this is a solved problem. Markets are very good at providing a variety of offerings that cater to diverse preferences. Planet Fitness provides a solution for transwomen who want to use a women’s locker room. For people who have a problem with this, there are other options. Unfortunately, this pluralism is likely to be endangered by the intolerance of activists on both sides, who insist that all facilities be operated according to their preferences.

    Government facilities are more problematic because 1) they’re common property, and thus controlled politically, and 2) they often have no alternatives. That’s a legitimate dilemma.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Brandon Berg
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      says:

      I’m not going to disagree that markets are good at providing diverse offerings… but I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here.

      After all, we’re really talking about a situation where one customer has a problem, not with the goods and services offered, but with other customers. I feel like that largely falls under the category of squishy irrational judgement where the free market doesn’t do very much good.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Alan Scott
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        says:

        @alan-scott – not sure I follow…if I go to a bar, and I don’t like the other clientele in there with me, and I complain to the bar owner about it, and he tells me “so go find another bar”, and I take my business elsewhere – isn’t that still a “market”?

        Part of the “goods and services” of any establishment is its atmosphere (Planet Fitness tries to discourage “gym rats and lunks” from joining, for this reason).

        Even around here, where it’s not a money-making venture, they try to keep a certain inclusive atmosphere, and if someone doesn’t like it (like, if someone kept hassling Veronica, or saying she shouldn’t be here when they are) and Management told the hassler to move on and go find other digs, that’s still a “market”, isn’t it?

        No money changes hands, but the “price” of participating here is “playing well with others”, no?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph: The problem (as the OP points out) is that this isn’t presented as customer preference, it’s presented as “women shouldn’t have to just shut up and accept sexually-aggressive male behavior” versus “trans people should be treated as the gender they prefer rather than their biological gender”Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        “women shouldn’t have to just shut up and accept sexually-aggressive male behavior”

        No one disagrees. But this is a nonsense comment as no one is accusing anyone of sexually aggressive behavior and no men were involved.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        @veronica-d many people think that no men were involved but lots of other people believe that biology determines gender and a man was involved.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Alan Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        @glyph , my point isn’t that the market isn’t responding. It’s that in situations like this, the signals that it is responding to are weird, and that leads to weird market outcomes.Report

  13. Avatar Matty
    Ignored
    says:

    a magical land where people just aren’t that feared out by either nudity or the human body

    For what it’s worth I’m told that the Germans and Scandinavians are pretty close to that with things like some public swimming pools letting people in without a costume.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Matty
      Ignored
      says:

      I can personally attest to this, at least in the case of Germans: a lot of them have this belief that if you don’t change out of your bathing suit immediately after getting out of the water, you’ll catch a cold, so it’s not uncommon at German beaches to see people (of all ages) change right out on the beach to the total apathy of everyone around them.Report

  14. Avatar KatherineMW
    Ignored
    says:

    My old university has gotten rid of the men’s and women’s washrooms and now just has sets of washrooms with stalls that both men and women can go into. I don’t like it when I’m on campus and have to use the washrooms; unisex stall washrooms creep me out (happily, they did at least get rid of the urinals).

    Given the small proportion of people who are transgender, I think the best option is 1) have one or two either-gender individual washrooms, which lots of places already have, and people can change in there if they want; or 2) trans people can change inside the changeroom or washroom stalls – which lots of people do anyone because of shyness – and thus not be naked in front of people who would be uncomfortable or raise questions.

    But I don’t think women are obligated to share open changerooms with people who are, physically and biologically, men. And cancelling someone’s membership for saying “there’s a guy in the women’s changeroom” is ridiculous.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW
      Ignored
      says:

      Change to first paragraph: I meant to say that both-sex stall washrooms creep me out. I don’t have a specific fear; I just…don’t want guys in the same room with me when I’m peeing.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to KatherineMW
      Ignored
      says:

      Look, I’m all for finding solutions that let everyone feel safe, but this wasn’t the case of a woman encountering someone who seemed like a man and getting kicked out after complaining to staff about it.

      This is the case of a woman, who encountered someone who clearly presented as a woman–you talk about people who are “physically and biologically men’, but this woman had breasts–and then when she didn’t get the response she wanted spent the next four days harassing the gym’s other customers about the issue, even though the transwoman isn’t even a member of the gym.

      Look, even had the gym actually done something of rebuke, that sort of behavior is inappropriate. But this woman was basically just being a jerk, for presumably political reasons.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to KatherineMW
      Ignored
      says:

      trans people can change inside the changeroom or washroom stalls…

      “Separate but equal” is not acceptable.

      Was discomfort in the Jim Crow south an acceptable justification for racially segregated bathrooms? If a straight woman is uncomfortable with a butch lesbian, should that butch be required to use the single-occupancy washroom?

      Are trans folks a specially category against whom your bigotry becomes magically justified?

      (And even if you don’t feel like you’re bigoted, that does not mean you are not. Being wrong feels exactly like being right.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
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        says:

        From what I recall from grade school, the point of the pictures of the separate water fountains was that separate was *NOT*, in fact, equal.

        We were never, ever, shown a picture of a “white” fountain next to a “colored” fountain where both of the fountains were identical.

        Which makes me suspect that the dynamic behind pointing out that separate bathrooms is the equivalent of Jim Crow will have an uphill climb.

        Plus there’s the fact that the ladies’ room has couches and televisions and vending machines and the guys’ just has urinals.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        No one will believe the magnitude of the issue is the same, but (at least some) people will see that the argument is the same: the fact that person X is merely uncomfortable is not enough to justify a double standard against person Y. Person X must also produce evidence that their fears are justified. Plus even then, they must argue that an n-percentage statistical difference in behavior justifies bigotry against Y-number people. Then they must ask, “Hey wait, if I apply this standard to other minorities or homeless women or {whatever}, will I be consistent?”

        I don’t think that cis people will be able to meet this burden of proof.

        Of course, to many people that will not matter, as their true rejection of trans people has nothing to do with a rational evaluation of the danger we pose. Instead, it is an irrational disgust response, the same moral guide that leads many toward a hatred of blacks and gays (and really lots of things).

        However, people change. They soul-search. They look inside and they say, “Hey, this is wrong. I am wrong to feel this way. I should change.”

        So we debate and make our points and draw our analogies, imperfect as they are, to help drive intuition.

        I use public restrooms pretty much every day. They are almost always they women’s room. Likewise, if you are a cis woman, you have almost certainly shared the restroom with a trans woman. You perhaps did not know, cuz you probably wouldn’t clock a woman who looks like Janet Mock, but so what? From a moral stance, I am no less worthy than Janet Mock, even if I do not pass as well as she.

        Again, soul-searching. Is the double standard against me fair?

        Any feminist who thinks “Janet yes, veronica no,” cuz of how Janet looks is failing badly at feminism and obviously so.

        Unless you think in general that pretty, slender femme gals are more worthy than a woman who is broad shouldered and large.

        Of course, many people believe precisely that. Do you want to be one of them?

        Furthermore, would you apply such a standard against cis women? For example, many women athletes are larger than I, have higher testosterone levels than I, are more prone to aggression than I — on and on. Any rational argument you make against me will apply as well against such women athletes.

        For example, can Cyborg use the women’s room?

        Of my three sexual assaults, one was by a cis lesbian. She no doubt uses the women’s room and women’s showers and so on. Are cis women safe with her, but not me? Absurd.

        (Actually maybe they are. Trans women are socially vulnerable to cis women in a way that cis women are not socially vulnerable to trans women. For example, this entire conversation is about our vulnerability to the capricious judgements of cis women. In any case, it is plausible that this women felt license to harm a trans women in a way she would not versus a cis women. Maybe.)

        Anyway, I could go on.

        #####

        In the end we will win this debate, as the truth is on our side.

        But why did we have to have the debate? What was the fucking point? Why do I have to carry this weight?

        What a goddam waste of time over nonsense.

        Let’s try to hurry this up, to skip ahead to the good parts where transphobia has gone away.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        The argument that we can ignore the uncomfortable feelings of cis women because their uncomfortable feelings are irrational is an argument I’ve encountered before and its record in recent years isn’t as good as it has been as recently as a few generations ago.

        Please understand: I’m a radical individualist and so these arguments about how to best group people together always has me feeling kinda weird when it comes to picking a side. I see both sides as having kind of a point and both sides as kind of missing the point and, at the end of the day, we’re talking about a private organization that has every right to have whatever the hell policies it wants. As such, I’m not arguing for the status quo as much as I have a disinterested fascination with social theory and my take on the argument being used here is that while the position that transpeople ought to be able to use whichever changing room they’re inclined to use is the position that will most likely prevail in the next decade or so, it won’t be because of comparisons to Jim Crow laws. Seriously, cis women have some strange bedfellows as allies here.

        Of course, I could easily be wrong here.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        @jaybird — I don‘t really see an argument there.

        I take it as a given that we accept the virtues of the Civil Rights Acts, that a black family on a road trip can stop into any diner and not be refused service. If they are refused service, the law is on their side.

        I demand the same.

        Likewise a black woman can enter any fitness club in the US and expect to be treated the same as a white woman. If she is not, the law is on her side.

        Again, I demand the same.

        To me, your flavor of libertarianism is so far over into the wacky-moon-beliefs region that it has little bearing. We as a society have already accepted what trans people ask for, for virtually every other minority group. Now it’s our turn. The logic that worked for them works for us.

        Note that this is not a case of “whatever bathroom they choose” — I am legally a woman. I demand the same rights as any woman.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        Best of luck to you and yours, of course.

        At this point, I’m fascinated by the rate of change that has happened in my lifetime that feels like a social version of the whole “horseless carriages to the moon landing” thing that my grandparents had going on.

        It seems to me that we are quickly heading towards somewhere around the “wacky-moon-beliefs region” and I’m quite hopeful that the vector in which I’m headed crosses over the vector everybody else is headed at some point and, if I’m very lucky, it’ll be somewhere near the same time).

        Fingers are crossed.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        What’s interesting to me, about this discussion, is that it’s basically confirming what the rad-fem people were afraid of all along; that, yet again, women are being told that their desires and emotions are irrational foolishness that shouldn’t place any limits on what men want to do.

        And yeah, “but I’m not a man I’m a woman“, the point is not you, the point is how your actions are being interpreted by other people. On seeing a biological male in a women’s locker room, why is it unreasonable for someone to think “hey, there’s a man in the women’s locker room!”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        What’s interesting to me, about this discussion, is that it’s basically confirming what the rad-fem people were afraid of all along; that, yet again, women are being told that their desires and emotions are irrational foolishness that shouldn’t place any limits on what men want to do.

        I suspect many “radfems” would agree with you. Look up “TERF.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        Jim,
        in this brave new world we live in, we ought to expect someone encountering such a thing to go up to the person and inquire “are you potentially in the wrong room?” or perhaps “transitioning, right?”

        If the person instead simply begins to scream and shout imprecations, they are being quite a bit more irrational than is currently supported by our society, and should be told such and expected to shut up (with treatment provided later, should that be necessary).

        Idealism, ain’t it fun?Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        Trans women are women, and if some cis woman wants to ask me I’ll tell her.

        But then, that kinda sucks, to put me under special scrutiny like that. And indeed a big part of social power and social privilege rests according to who is questionable. Why is that black man in that neighborhood? “That doesn’t look right,” the white man says. “He doesn’t belong there.”

        So it goes for me. But then, I don’t actually look like a man. Which, you can tell I have experienced virilization, which is the unfortunate condition when a person is exposed to testosterone. But one can also see, if one bothers to look, that I have experience feminization, for example my hips and breasts. Add to that my hairstyle, my makeup, my clothes.

        But of course some cis women experience various shades of virilization. How can the locker room cis busybody know she is harassing a trans woman and not some unfortunate soul with PCOS? Should she care, or is this hand-waved away with some “Well it’s so unfortunate…”

        Blah blah blah.

        Social power is expressed according to who gets to question who and when, who can demand justification of whom, and who has the power to render judgement. Women with genetic anomalies, including an XY chromosome pair, lack such power at every turn.

        My gender is under constant, soul-crushing scrutiny.

        #####

        The reality, of course, is that women like me, and cis women with various genetic and hormonal conditions, will indeed be questioned, which sucks but that’s life.

        The issue then becomes, what happens when I answer?

        “Oh I’m a trans woman,” should be entirely sufficient.

        “Oh. Okay. Cool. Nice to meet you. I’m Beverly.”

        “Likewise! Hi! I’m veronica. I love your shoes.”

        In the Planet Fitness case, this is not what happened. In this case, the cis woman freaked the fuck out and made a big stink, harassing other gym members in an effort to stir up bigotry against the trans woman in question. They threw the busybody out on her ass. Yay.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim

        in this brave new world we live in, we ought to expect someone encountering such a thing to go up to the person and inquire “are you potentially in the wrong room?” or perhaps “transitioning, right?”

        I recall one of my first experiences shopping for women’s clothes. The sales associate, a woman, came over and chatted with me and my wife. Anyway, after a bit she asked our names. When I said “veronica,” she immediately got a kinda-knowing look and became super helpful.

        When I asked her later about she told me the specially trained the staff to deal with trans women. I’m pretty sure the name-asking thing was a ploy to read my gender. (Glad I’m not “Pat.”)

        Anyway, she handled it really well. I shop there a lot now.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        v,
        know that I said what I did above, because I know guys who have walked into the women’s restroom. Repeatedly (okay, so once was in Vegas, and everyone just laughed. Heatstroke’s no one’s friend, and alcohol makes it worse). ;-PReport

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim — But you’re writing about cis men going into the women’s room. I’m writing about trans women. Those are different topics. Almost all of the time it is easy to tell us apart.

        I know some butches who really look like men, and who thus get harassed. It sucks. But they suck it up and say what’s what, and then the straight women leave them alone. I’m demanding at least that much respect.Report

  15. Avatar Kim
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay, I think the issue here is we’re trying to treat something outside of a hospital that should be treated within it. (or, at any rate, with a trained psychologist).

    I assume it is possible for someone to be that scared of dick, that seeing one unexpectedly in the locker room might cause substantial amounts of pain and suffering.

    That is a person who needs substantial psychological treatment, probably because they’ve been raped or abused.

    When someone is fucked up to a substantial degree, it’s reasonable and ethical for people to make minimal changes to accommodate this (curtains, as stated above, or “hey, is Jessie in there? ” followed by a “Jessie’s on the right”).

    But the real focus should be on fixing the problem, as I think we can all agree that there is something of a problem there.

    [You can’t tell someone to stop feeling something and expect it to work. However, if the person was really just cognitively thinking “no boys in my locker room”– you can outargue someone’s brain.]Report

  16. Avatar A Compromised Immune System
    Ignored
    says:

    There’s nothing of note here. She wasn’t kicked out for complaining about the locker room policy to management: she was kicked out for constantly trying to “out” a fellow patron to other patrons and other harassing conduct towards her fellow patron.

    Further, there wasn’t nudity involved. ABC’s coverage had an interview with her.

    Yvette Cormier, a 48, said she was walking into the Midland Planet Fitness locker room last Saturday when she saw someone “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.

    For all anyone knew, she was just complaining about a fellow female patron and doing so in an incredibly derogatory way.Report

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