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Tacoma woman feels discriminated against by gym’s locker room policy


A Tacoma woman feels scared to use her local gym after a locker room encounter last week.

Diana* was in the women’s locker room with a friend after a workout when a person exiting the showers bumped into her.

“He had a baseball cap on and just head-down, and made a beeline for the exit of the locker room,” she said. “And I looked at my friend and my friend looked at me, and we were like, ‘Was that a guy?’ That’s kind of weird.”

She and her friend went to inform the front desk. The front desk told her that the person identified as a woman, and that state law requires the gym to let anyone use the locker room of the gender with which they identify.

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“They just kept saying, ‘State law, state law, state law,'” she said.

Diana and her friend followed the gym user outside and watched the person get into what they described as a rundown-looking van that was parked at a strip mall across the street, not in the gym’s parking lot. Between their take on the van’s appearance and location, the gym user’s large backpack, and the proximity of a homeless encampment down the street, they suspected the gym user may be a homeless person going to the gym just to shower.

“It just was odd,” Diana said.

When she called the gym back to ask what her options were, she was told that she could use a single, locked unisex bathroom in the back of the gym.

“I said, ‘Well why do I have to request to use that?'” she recalled. “‘Your placard outside the locker room says ‘women,’ with the picture of the woman with the skirt. It doesn’t have gender-neutral signage.’ It just was shocking.”

Diana supports people who really are transgender, but she fears that cis-gendered sexual predators may use a transgender gender identity as a ploy to gain access to a locker room full of women. She feels that the gym did not fully consider her safety concerns, and therefore acted in a way that was discriminatory toward women.

“You want to be supportive of other people, but at the same time, I just feel that it opens the door to things that are not very good,” Diana said.

*Last name left out at personal request.

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