LEESBURG, Fla. - A transgender woman at the center of a Planet Fitness policy debate says she has been traumatized by the experience.
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The transgender woman, Ivey Gardner, said the incident has been wrongly painted. She also said she was ready to let it go and move on, but after seeing it thrust into the public eye, she felt a need to speak up.
“I had to step out and say something because I'm not going to be made into a monster,” she said.
A transitioning transgender woman, Gardner, contacted Channel 9 to tell her side of what happened at a Leesburg Planet Fitness in May when she said another woman entered the locker room and yelled at her.
“She told me I looked like a clown. She told me I looked like a man and I need to stop trying to appear as a woman,” Gardner said.
Planet Fitness canceled that woman's membership for violating its "judgement-free zone” policy.
Weeks later, Gardner learned her former name was publicized in a demand letter sent to the company by the legal counsel of the ex- member.
A week ago, that former member, who asked not to be named, spoke out about her legal fight against the gym.
“I feel like my rights were violated,” she said. She believes the gym should reinstate her membership.
Her attorney sent Planet Fitness a demand letter asking to reinstate his client's membership and make changes to membership and locker room policies to prevent “outright discrimination.”
Gardner said the woman had plenty of space in the locker room.
“I was using my part of the locker room that I was in. There were several other parts of the locker room that she could have gone to,” said Gardner.
Sitting alongside her mother, Gardner told Channel 9 she's been traumatized from the experience in which they both believe she was sexually harassed.
“She may feel uncomfortable, but I feel like my life's in danger anytime someone approaches me like that,” Gardner said, adding that she's grateful for the actions of Planet Fitness and hopes a positive solution prevails.
“I really am sorry that she was uncomfortable with what happened, but I definitely feel like she could have handled it better,” said Gardner.
The woman who complained claims Gardner followed her into the parking lot when she tried to leave. Gardner said she was trying to report a description to a 911 dispatcher. Gardner said had she known that what she was reporting was a legal matter and not a police matter, she wouldn’t have called 911.
A Planet Fitness spokesperson said safety and privacy are a top priority and that members and guests may use all gym facilities, “based on their sincere self-reported gender identity.”
The spokesperson also said that all the locker rooms include private changing areas.
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