By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 30 2013 2:19 PM ET
A transgender woman in Montclair, Calif., contends she was denied access to the women's locker room at an LA Fitness facility after she asked an employee for workout tips specialized for trans women.
Yanel Valenzuela told Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL that a manager at the LA Fitness in Montclair told her she's no longer allowed to use the women's locker room after learning from another employee that Valenzuela is transgender.
"I felt hurt because I don't understand why she did it," Valenzuela told KCAL. "She had no reason. She had no complaint from anyone."
Valenzuela contends that after she asked another employee for workout tips customized to fit her needs as a trans woman, the club's manager approached her and said she was no longer allowed to use the women's restroom. Valenzuela says she showed the manager her California driver's license, which lists her gender as female, along with a letter from her doctor stating that although she was born male, Valenzuela has undergone clinical and surgical treatment and is physically, legally, and mentally a woman.
The manager still wouldn't allow Valenzuela to use the bathroom — which could be a violation of California's statewide antidiscrimination law, which prohibits denying a person service, access, or public accommodation on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. California's antidiscrimination law became explicitly trans-inclusive in 2003, according to the Transgender Law Center.
This isn't the first time LA Fitness employees have been accused of anti-LGBT bias. A gay couple in Los Angeles contends that they were the victims of a hate crime when a belligerent man verbally harassed and berated them inside an LA Fitness location. Upon reporting the harassment to management, the couple was told the aggressor's membership was revoked, but the gay couple contends their harasser was back in the same gym the next week, and were allegedly told that because the harassment occurred only once, the club had no disciplinary recourse. The couple has launched a petition calling on LA Fitness to protect its members against harassment, called Stop Hate LA Fitness.
Watch KCAL's report on Valenzuela's claim below.