How do you describe something that is beyond ridiculous, beyond absurd? How do you paint a picture of something that is so upside down that it defies logic and reason? Let me give it my best shot. Not a word here is exaggerated or made up.
In 1997, a woman we'll call "Mrs. H." was jogging when a man jumped out of the woods and tried to rape her. She was able to fight him off and ran for her life, bruised and cut on the outside and deeply traumatized on the inside.
Police were called; trained dogs searched the area; helicopters came in to aid the search. Who can imagine the lasting pain of an incident like this?
Then, earlier this year, Mrs. H. went to her local Planet Fitness to work out, as she does most days of the week. But when she went into the locker room to change, there was a young man standing there, putting on make-up as he looked in the mirror.
Thinking he had walked into the wrong locker room by mistake, Mrs. H. asked him why he was there, pointing out that he was a man but was in the women's changing area. He did not reply.
So Mrs. H. went to talk to the manager, who informed her that this man identified as a woman and by Planet Fitness policy, he was allowed to use the ladies' locker room.
When she explained that she was not comfortable changing in the presence of a man (her locker was two feet from where he was standing), she was told she would have to wait.
Mrs. H. waited for roughly an hour. (Think of waiting for one hour to use a locker room.) But when she went back, he was still inside.
She asked him, "How long will you be here?", but again, he didn't reply.
She then explained that she was not comfortable changing in his presence, just as she wouldn't be comfortable changing in the presence of her four sons. So, it was nothing personal against him. It was a simple male-female privacy issue. (And who uses a Planet Fitness locker room to put on makeup for more than an hour?)
Just then, one of the female employees told her she had better leave, lest she get in trouble. When Mrs. H. asked why, the female employee said she had been "saying things." Oh, what a terrible crime! (Somehow Mrs. H. had become the offender.)
Not wanting to create a scene, Mrs. H. left quickly, only to be followed by the man, who was on the phone. He had called 911, claiming that he had been sexually harassed. (I am not making this up.)
He was trying to give a description of Mrs. H. (his harasser) to the 911 operator. But when she saw she was being followed, she began to run, and he began to run after her.
Twenty years earlier, she was running from an attempted rapist. Now she was running from a man who invaded the woman's locker room and was accusing her of sexual harassment.
Yet it gets worse.
She immediately received a letter in the mail from Planet Fitness telling her that her membership was revoked. Yes, her membership was revoked.
For what transgression? She was guilty of lunking! Yes, that was the term used by Planet Fitness.
And what, exactly does "lunking" include? Well, you can't make grunting noises when you work out. You can't drop weights. And you can't judge. Mrs. H. was guilty of judging.
So severe was her crime that she was informed that she had been banned from 66 Planet Fitness branches. Banned!
Did I tell you this was beyond ridiculous?
But it gets more absurd still. According to an article on the LGTBQ Nation website, Mrs. H. is the culprit, and the young man is the victim. As the headline proclaims, "A cis woman got banned from a gym for insulting a trans woman. She thinks she's the victim."
Oh, this poor deluded woman. How could she possibly think she was the victim?
Thankfully, Mrs. H. had the presence of mind to call Liberty Counsel even before she got the letter from Planet Fitness. And as Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel's Founder and Chairman explained on my radio show, Planet Fitness could well be guilty of consumer fraud.
That's because the written agreement signed by their patrons states that there are locker rooms for men and for women. It does not say a word about a man who identifies as a woman being able to use the women's locker room. Yet, Planet Fitness has now stated that this is indeed their policy, contrary to their written, contractual agreement.
I urge every single patron of Planet Fitness, both female and male, to ask the manager at your gym if a man who identifies as a woman can use the women's locker room. If the manager says yes, ask him or her to please show you this on the contract you signed.
And let's be candid here. If a contract says that there are separate locker rooms for men and women, it's understood that we're talking biology. Who cares how the person identifies? Females don't expect to change in the presence of males. Simple. (Remember also that many men who identify as women are still attracted to women.)
If the manager says their new policy allows people to use the locker room that corresponds with their gender identity, point out to them that is not what their contract says. And then inform them that if they will allow males in the women's locker room, you will have to cancel your membership. Then document what happened and send the information to Liberty Counsel. I also encourage you to share this article with all your friends as well.
The good news is that the Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled against Planet Fitness in an almost identical case. As reported on the Club Industry website, "A Planet Fitness health club misled an ex-member by failing to fully explain its transgender-inclusive locker room policies when she signed a membership contract in 2015, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on July 26."
So, there is a little sanity left in this world after all. Let's do our best to keep it that way.
And now that you've read this story, listen to Mrs. H. tell it her own words. You'll also hear part of the 911 call from the young man, who could really use our prayers. As I said at the outset, not a word here is exaggerated or made-up. Who needs fiction with true stories like this?
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Donald Trump Is Not My Savior. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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