Blog   Health & Sexuality

NC Teen Assaulted By Man in Gym Locker Room

Teen girls sitting in a locker room

On April 4, a 38-year-old man, Christopher Allan Miller, entered a female locker room at a Planet Fitness gym in Gastonia, North Carolina. Miller stripped naked in front of a 17-year-old girl and asked her to rub lotion and shower together. Authorities were called, and Miller was arrested on a felony charge, but this situation reveals a bigger problem. Miller claimed to identify as a woman, and Planet Fitness allows members to use locker rooms based on their self-reported gender identity. However, despite staunchly defending a transgender member just a few weeks ago, now Planet Fitness issued the following statement to the New York Post:

“At Planet Fitness, the safety of our employees and members is our top priority, and we have zero tolerance for harassment of any kind in our clubs,” said McCall Gosselin, chief corporate affairs officer at Planet Fitness. “We took immediate action to ensure the safety of club members, including notifying and working with law enforcement.”

But What Is a Woman?

Miller’s requests to the teen were wildly inappropriate and illegal. By all appearances, he did not identify as a woman before this incident and took advantage of the policy for his own purposes. This is unequivocally wrong, and Planet Fitness was right to voice their opposition to his perverse actions. However, it is the gym’s policy itself that opened the doors for this type of exploitation. The policy fails to identify what qualifies someone’s gender identity, giving Miller the opportunity to enter the locker room in the first place.

Is Gender Binary or a Spectrum?

If gender were a spectrum, then separating people in a binary, male/female way for things like locker rooms would be impossible. Do you become a woman if you have gender-affirming surgery? Do you become a woman if you change your sex on official records? Do you become a woman if you wear a dress and makeup? What if a man presents as predominantly “masculine,” but states he is a woman?

Adding to this confusion, many have suggested, including Harvard University, that one’s gender identity is fluid, or can change daily. So, maybe someone identifies as a woman one day, but they identify as a man, or something in between, the next?

The Necessity of Separate Spaces

As the recent incidents at Planet Fitness demonstrate, society cannot simultaneously treat gender as fluid and as binary, because it opens the door to exploitation. There have been a number of cases where males have exploited the “all-gender” policy regarding bathrooms and dressing rooms. This is not because individuals who identify as transgender are necessarily more likely to be sexual predators, but because sexual predators will take advantage of misguided gender policies to gain access to women and girls.

Women Must Be Protected

At the end of the day, women should not be forced to sacrifice their privacy and safety in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms to accommodate another person’s gender dysphoria or gender confusion.  Policies like the one at Planet Fitness place the safety and privacy of their female members secondary to the acceptance of trans-identifying individuals. Sexual predators, especially those who would approach a minor, will take advantage of situations like these to achieve their goal, and we must do what we can to protect women and children from harm.


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