My son's kindy teacher told me her experience after I mentioned I was going to a Speak Up for Women discussion. I have asked her to write it. These are her words below.
“My friend and I were members of the local gym. We went most days to improve our strength and fitness so important especially for woman reaching their 60s who are no longer engaged in sports.
One day we entered the female changing room of the gym to get ready for our session, as we had done many times before. To our surprise there was a man sitting on one of the benches. There was nothing to suggest he was anything other than a man….dress, appearance but most noticeably mannerism and behavior. He sat and watched and watched. In all my 60 years I have never seen a woman sit in a changing room and stare at others showering and dressing.
In the changing rooms there was a group of 5 or 6 young teenage girls just finishing a session. They had noticed the man and were giggling together. They moved away from him…out of sight and the strength of their number seemed to make it just hilarious. I did notice one girl in the group look uncomfortable.
My friend and I felt uncomfortable but we got changed . When we left we decided to go to the reception area to share our experience and concerns.
The response was astounding . Words to the effect …. Yes we know….others have complained… he is transitioning… there is nothing we can do… this is how things are now… you have to be tolerant…
We left feeling that we were in the wrong and had been old fashioned and intolerant. We also felt that the changing room were not a safe or pleasant place to be anymore.
We do understand that of course there is a need to accommodate all people, but think that the management needed to be better informed, more understanding, and have policies in place.
The transitioning person was in the gym changing room for the next few days. Their unnerving behavior (I never saw them ever get changed themselves, just hangout) continued.
My friend and I felt that the gym wasn’t the place for us, not because of the person but the management/policy that removed the framework that made us feel safe. We are now out walking for fitness”.