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Planet Fitness Canceled Membership of Woman Who Photographed Alleged Trans Member in Locker Room?

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In Fairbanks, Alaska, life coach Patricia Silva found herself at the center of controversy after Planet Fitness revoked her gym membership after she allegedly took an unsolicited photo of someone — whom she claimed to be a transgender woman — shaving their face in the women’s locker room.

The news of Silva’s canceled membership quickly went viral on social media, with posts on X (formerly Twitter) from as far afield as Germany, and with many calling for a boycott of the fitness chain while also claiming that, because of the controversy, Planet Fitness lost $400 million of its market value in five days.

The incident occurred when Silva reportedly witnessed someone she believed to be male in the women’s locker room and took a photo of the person, who was fully dressed, and expressed concern over the presence of someone she perceived as male in a space designated for females and while children were present.

Silva took to her Facebook page on March 11, 2024, to post a video about the incident that took place earlier that day, which she appeared to film in the parking lot of her gym in Fairbanks:

Good day I just wanted to say I just came out of Planet Fitness. And there is a man shaving in a woman’s bathroom. I realize he wants to be a woman. He gets to be a woman. I love him in Christ. He’s a spiritual being having a human experience. He doesn’t like his gender. So he wants to be a woman. But I’m not comfortable with him shaving in my bathroom. All right, I just thought I’d say out loud.

That same day, the conservative X account Libs of TikTok shared Silva’s Facebook clip, along with the purported photo of the person in the women’s locker room. The Libs of TikTok repost quickly went viral, amassing nearly 10 million views at the time of this writing.

We reached out to Silva, who did not immediately return Snopes’ request for comment.

Shortly after her first post, Silva uploaded a second clip to Facebook, going into greater detail about her bathroom encounter earlier that day:

I was in the women’s locker room at Planet Fitness today and there was a man shaving. And I confronted him and asked him to leave the space because I felt intimidated that there was a man in the women’s locker room. He tried to justify himself, told me he was a queer LGB, and that he had a right to be there. And I didn’t want to argue with him. So I walked out the door and I announced to the front desk that there was a man in the women’s locker room shaving. They acted as if they didn’t hear me. They put their tail between their legs and I left the building.

Silva wrote out her account of what allegedly transpired, suggesting that, while the person in the women’s locker room apparently did not explicitly self-identify as transgender or nonbinary, a woman who apparently worked at the facility did identify the member that way. According to Silva, “As I was walking out the door…at my back, a woman shouts ‘it’s a girl’… I shouted back ‘it’s a man!'” Per her Facebook post:

(Patricia Silva/Facebook)

It’s worth noting that, according to Planet Fitness’s Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy: “Private information such as a person’s identification as transgender or nonbinary and any medical information must be treated as confidential.”

Silva’s actions prompted Planet Fitness to cancel her membership, citing violations of their corporate policies regarding taking a photo in the locker room, according to a company spokesperson. 

Planet Fitness’ chief corporate affairs officer, McCall Gosselin, gave the following statement to Snopes:

As the home of the Judgement Free Zone, Planet Fitness is committed to creating an inclusive environment. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use the gym facilities that best align with their sincere, self-reported gender identity. The member who posted on social media violated our mobile device policy that prohibits taking photos of individuals in the locker room, which resulted in their membership being terminated. 

Planet Fitness Policies

Planet Fitness does not allow men to use women’s facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa.

The gym, however, does allow transgender women to use the women’s locker room and bathroom and transgender men to use the men’s facilities. And like many other businesses, it has a corporate policy that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. According to the gym’s policies, members are allowed to use facilities that correspond with their self-identified gender. Per the Planet Fitness nondiscrimination policy:

Planet Fitness does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any person on its premises on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, disability, or any other basis protected by law. All members will have access to restroom and locker room facilities that correspond to their self-reported gender identity to the extent permitted by applicable law.

Additionally, according to Planet Fitness policy as written on its website, while “members and team members will be treated according to their self-reported gender identity,” the fitness chain does allow provisions if there is “significant doubt” regarding a person’s “transgender or nonbinary status/identity.” The gym’s gender identity nondiscrimination policy stated: 

If a serious concern or significant doubt about the bona fides of a person’s transgender or nonbinary status/identity arises and which the team member can articulate, the team member shall address their concerns with the member. If discussion with the member fails to resolve the serious concern or doubt, the club may ask for external evidence of the member’s asserted gender identity. If it is confirmed that a member is acting in bad faith and improperly asserts a gender identity, they may be asked to leave and their membership may be terminated.

Planet Fitness also has a policy regarding the use of mobile devices on its premises:

Planet Fitness strictly prohibits the use of mobile devices to take photographs or videos or to make voice or video calls in the locker rooms but also in our black card spa area including individual rooms such as tanning rooms. … Out of respect for the privacy and comfort of our members, photographs or video should never include anyone who has not given their prior permission to appear in such images. 

Police Involvement?

On March 13, 2024, two days after the incident took place, Silva posted another clip, again from the parking lot of Planet Fitness in Fairbanks. She gave additional details of the locker room encounter and an update on her gym membership having been revoked, telling her followers, “I got canceled. Planet Fitness is defending the man in the woman’s locker room, the man with a penis, rather than the child sitting in the corner with a towel wrapped around her. … I took that picture because I felt like I was in an unsafe space. … And so I’m probably going to go report this to the police today.”

On March 18, 2024, Silva updated her Facebook followers with a message about her purported visit to a police station in Fairbanks: “They told me I have no rights over the situation and that the man in the women’s locker room had every right to be there because HE identified as a girl… I called that child molestation on many levels.”

Snopes reached out to the Fairbanks Police Department, which did not immediately return our request for comment. 

Despite multiple news outlets claiming the person in the locker room whose photo Silva took was a transgender woman, there was no evidence to support the claim of their purported gender expression. The person in the photo remains unidentified and has yet to publicly address the Planet Fitness situation. While many reports state that Silva lost her gym membership for disobeying Planet Fitness’ “judgment-free” rules regarding gender expression, the company affirmed to Snopes that her membership was canceled for breaking the policy on mobile device usage.

As the controversy continued to unfold, Snopes noted similarities to various other company boycotts we’ve previously reported on.

Sources

Desk, JACKSON WALKER |. The National. “Planet Fitness Defends Banning Customer Who Reported ‘Man in Women’s Locker Room.'” WPDE, 15 Mar. 2024, https://wpde.com/news/nation-world/planet-fitness-defends-banning-customer-who-reported-man-in-womens-locker-room-fairbanks-alaska-patricia-silva-gym-lgbt-transgender-gender-identity-discrimination-policy.

Editor, Maura Zurick Weekend Night. “Planet Fitness Faces Boycott Calls from Outraged Conservatives.” Newsweek, 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.newsweek.com/planet-fitness-faces-boycott-calls-outraged-conservatives-1880134.

Gordon, James. “Gym Goer Exposed ‘trans Woman’ Shaving in Female Bathroom.” Mail Online, 15 Mar. 2024, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13203209/Alaskan-gym-goer-exposed-trans-woman-shaving-female-bathroom-12-year-old-girl-membership-cancelled-Patricia-Silva.html.

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“Https://Twitter.Com/Libsoftiktok/Status/1767391548889849885.” X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/libsoftiktok/status/1767391548889849885. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

Morik, Ryan. “Planet Fitness Revokes Woman’s Membership after She Snapped Photo of Transgender Woman in Women’s Locker Room.” Fox News, 15 Mar. 2024, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/planet-fitness-revokes-womans-membership-snapped-photo-transgender-woman-womens-locker-room.

news/author/steveanderson. “Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT) Sinks as New Boycott Threat Emerges – TipRanks.Com.” TipRanks Financial, https://www.tipranks.com/news/planet-fitness-nyseplnt-sinks-as-new-boycott-threat-emerges. Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

Planet Fitness Bans Member over Trans Woman Locker Room Photo. 19 Mar. 2024, https://web.archive.org/web/20240319015410/https://www.thepinknews.com/2024/03/18/planet-fitness-trans/.

Planet Fitness Defends Trans Woman Harassed in Locker Room. https://www.advocate.com/news/planet-fitness-bans-member-trans-woman. Accessed 21 Mar. 2024.

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Riley, John. “Planet Fitness Faces Boycott After Banning Anti-Trans Member.” Metro Weekly, 19 Mar. 2024, https://www.metroweekly.com/2024/03/planet-fitness-faces-boycott-after-banning-anti-trans-member/.

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