A trans-identified male in British Columbia is considering filing a human rights complaint after being barred from using a women-only gym.
Brigid Klyne-Simpson recently joined the Bodyworks Fitness gym in the city of Parksville on Vancouver Island. The gym has two locations, one female-only and the other co-ed. Klyne-Simpson, who has been identifying as a woman for the past three years, signed up to use the female-only facility, but after one visit was asked by staff to use the co-ed one in the future.
The trans-identified male describes being “extremely devastated” by the experience in an interview with Chek News, and spoke of feeling very uncomfortable in the past working out around “a bunch of really buff guys at the university gym.”
“I didn’t quite understand why that was uncomfortable because I didn’t know I was trans at the time. I still thought I was a guy,” said the trans-identified male. “Finding a ladies' gym was something that seemed really exciting, and now that I’m out, I understand why I was uncomfortable at the other place.”
But excitement soon turned to disappointment when a member of staff called to say there had been a mistake.
“I got a call…basically saying, ‘Sorry, we made a mistake, you’re not actually allowed to be here, but you’re more than welcome to use the co-ed facility,” Klyne-Simpson told Chek News.
“I just hung up, because I mean, I was extremely devastated, there’s really no other word for it.”
The gym’s owner, Dale Nagra, told Chek News that he felt Klyne-Simpson would be a better fit at their co-ed gym, where there are gender-neutral changing rooms.
“We want [Klyne-Simpson] to be comfortable, but we also have to worry about the young girls that this gym is set up for them and the women, and how are their parents are going to feel that they’re in there, then this person walks in with a male voice and big person,” Nagra said.
“So now you pick the comfort of the male who identifies as a woman…and then anybody can go in there saying, ‘OK, I identify as a woman, and I want to be able to go in there.’ And so, do we pick the comfort of the transgender person, and they may not be as comfortable with the co-ed gym but at least that’s an alternative, or do we pick the comfort of the young girls that are working out there that might not feel comfortable?”
Klyne-Simpson feels that the discomfort felt by women and girls at having a male in their intimate spaces can easily be overcome with just a little education.
“[A]ll it takes is education. Once you understand trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are who they say they are, it’s as simple as that,” Klyne-Simpson said. “If you still feel uncomfortable after that, that’s on you, it’s not on me. I am who I am, it’s as simple as that. I just look different. That’s all.”
Nagra said the gym is looking for a solution but stressed that the business was not discriminatory.
“We already have transgender people here, and all sorts of people, we’re not discriminatory at all,” Nagra said. “We’ve got staff that’s minorities, so, we’re not saying there’s no solutions, we’re looking for a solution and we’re not discriminatory people.”
Kelli Paddon, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity entirely ignored the conflict of rights between women’s sex-based rights and trans-activism's demands for gender-based rights that this incident highlights, instead choosing to frame it as a sign of how important it is to advance the rights of males who wish to enter female spaces.
“Trans people deserve to feel safe, welcome and affirmed for who they are. Trans women are women – period,” Paddon said in a statement to CHEK News. “At a time when trans people are under increased attack around the world, it’s up to all of us to speak out and to help break down barriers that transgender people face.”
Klyne-Simpson has contacted the BC Human Rights Commissioner regarding the incident.
“Even if this was resolved, I wouldn’t want to go back there, but it’s not so much for me, it’s for other people, because I’m sure this is I’m not the only person that this has happened to,” Klyne-Simpson said.
“While I never set out to become an accidental activist or anything, I feel like maybe I do have a certain responsibility that because this has happened to me, I need to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
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