Karine Jean-Pierre
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Trans Woman Wins Settlement in Suit Against California Gym

Christynne Wood

A California transgender woman has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against a gym that denied her access to the women’s locker room and other facilities.

Christynne Wood will receive a monetary settlement, the amount of which was not disclosed, in the suit against Crunch Fitness of El Cajon, near San Diego, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California announced Wednesday. The gym has also agreed to provide nondiscrimination training to its employees.

Wood had been a member at the Crunch Fitness location for nine years when she informed the staff in 2016 that she was transitioning and would need access to the women’s facilities. She presented a doctor’s letter and other documentation.

“I brought my paperwork out to show them and was immediately told ‘no, no, no, not so fast,’” Wood told San Diego’s CBS affiliate.

Wood had already been harassed in the men’s locker room, with a man grabbing his genitals while smiling at her. She reported the incident, but the gym took no action that she knew of. Then in 2017, almost a year after presenting her documents, there was another instance of harassment in the men’s locker room, with a man calling her a “f****** faggot,” according to an ACLU press release. She was finally granted access to the women’s facilities after this.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Crunch Fitness in 2018 over its treatment of Wood, as discrimination based on gender identity violates state law. The ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the law firm of Nixon Peabody later joined the suit.

“I feel elated and validated to finally reach resolution in this case,” Wood told the San Diego TV station. “I hope the settlement helps the owners of Crunch and other gyms appreciate the importance of respecting transgender people’s identities. It's not only our legal right, but also could save a life.”

Wood is still a member of the gym, which has changed ownership and management since the incidents that led to her suit. Exercising there has helped her lose 140 pounds, under doctors’ orders. “I desperately love my instructors and fellow students. They are my sisters,” she told the station.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing “brought suit in this case under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act to vindicate the essential right of transgender Californians to live their lives free from discrimination,” its director, Kevin Kish, said in the ACLU release. “Today’s settlement ensures that no Californian will face the discrimination Ms. Wood experienced in the future at this establishment.”

 

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