Enforced gender – at the gym

Yesterday at my gym I bumped into two of my new female classmates. In the girls locker room. As a trans guy I guess I’m not supposed to be in there. Maybe I should change with the guys, but I don’t feel comfortable doing so. I’m not ready for entering the gentlemen’s just yet. I think I will be, soon, but I don’t want to push it. The girls locker room is not the right one, only the easiest one.

It could have been an awkward moment, but it wasn’t. They smiled at me, we just said “Hi” and went about our own business. But it got me thinking.

What does it communicate to the ones I meet in there, regardless of how it makes me feel? Does it make it harder for anyone to treat me as a guy? Does it create some kind of confusion or discomfort? If I really want to know, I guess I should ask my classmates…  But they can’t speak for everyone and I can’t be sure that they are completely honest.

I hate those moments when I’m supposed to “decide” on what gender I belong to and act thereafter. Choosing locker room is one of those moments and it happens almost every day. Both locker rooms are wrong for me.

I’ve talked to the manager of the gym before about this. The last thing I heard from her was that she was sorry that she couldn’t offer me anything better than a toilet for changing, if I wanted privacy. And that just doesn’t do it for me. 1) I feel embarrassed to change in a room that is not made for changing in. 2) I can’t leave my things there. 3) It is against the house rules to bring your bag into the gym. 4) Access to shower and sauna is included in the monthly fee I pay for my gym card, but I don’t feel welcome in either the male or female locker room.

So yesterday I decided to take up my dialogue with my contact on the gym again. It’s a student’s gym, connected to the university. So there should be a policy document somewhere, stating everyone’s right to feel welcome and prohibiting discrimination against gender or gender identity. And I’m going to find it and enforce it right back at them!

I want a queer or gender neutral locker room, and I want it now. I think that I and other transgenderd or intergenderd people who are or want to be members of the university’s gym facility should feel welcome and have access to both a locker room, shower and sauna, like everyone else.

Maybe I can make it happen, if I get some help? I know that there are a few smaller locker rooms, that are only used when the gym is extra crowded. If those were to be assigned for trans people or people with special needs for privacy in general, there is no need for building anything new.

I’ll talk to the people at tonight’s trans meeting at RFSL, perhaps there is someone there who are willing to help me with my little project? If I can arrange a meeting with the gym and me and some other trans people and spokespeople from RFSL… If the gym won’t  cooperate, I could always write about in our students paper ERGO


2 thoughts on “Enforced gender – at the gym

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. You never notice how much gender binarity is part of society until you force yourself to think of it (at least that is my experience), and as cis there are so many things I simply do not see.

    To have a third, gender neutral locker room really is a small thing to ask, and it could probably be implemented with a minimum of work at most gyms and bath houses. It would be beneficial not only for trans* people, but for everyone who for whatever reason does not want to change in the standard locker rooms. It would also be beneficial for mixed gender groups who want to change together. A prejudice could be found in family oriented activities – I know for example that baby swimming often have free-for-all locker rooms to facilitate for families with parents of different gender. In all I think it would be a great idea for everyone involved. Thanks for bringing up the question, and I hope your gym will do something about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s