The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Transgender Harassment Sparks Bomb Threats at Planet Fitness Locations Nationwide

Credit: Public Domain
Credit: Public Domain

Bomb threats, spurred by one woman’s fear of a transgender person in her local gym, have been reported in Planet Fitness locations across the U.S.
Nearly 30 Planet Fitness locations have received bomb threats following a controversial social media post raising concerns about a transgender member shaving inside the women’s locker room. Police have received at least 28 bomb hoaxes in locations in 11 states; although no bombs were found, multiple businesses were forced to evacuate, according to the New York Post.
Everything started on March 11 after 67-year-old Patricia Sylvia saw a transgender gymgoer “with a penis” inside the women’s locker room of Planet Fitness in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Sylvia took a picture and made multiple posts about the incident on her Facebook account, saying she wasn’t “comfortable.” Following this incident, she was banned from Planet Fitness for violating their policy of taking photos of others in the locker rooms.
Planet Fitness bills itself on its website as a “Judgment Free Zone.”
According to the Planet Fitness website, “Planet Fitness prohibits discrimination and harassment that is based on gender identity or gender expression in the workplace and in our clubs.”
Just two days later, multiple bomb threat emails were sent to Planet Fitness locations in Rhode Island, Mississippi, Michigan, Alabama, and Maryland, as well as the Fairbanks Planet Fitness, according to Media Matters; however, police found nothing and called the threats “bogus.”
In many states, such as Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah, transgender people are prohibited from accessing bathrooms and certain places, including shower rooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities. Additionally, these policies exist in some schools and government-owned buildings and spaces, according to the Movement Advancement Project. While there are no laws stating that transgender people cannot use specific restrooms, many are still uncomfortable seeing transgender/non-binary people in public gender-segregated places, which often leads to discrimination, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Charles Raffetto, Williston’s Technical Theater teacher and a dorm parent in Logan House, the school’s all-gender dorm, thinks “various laws and attempts at laws aimed at the transgender community” have caused fear against transgender individuals.
“I think that fear caused Patricia Sylvia to act the way she did,” he said. “These laws and the fear that generates them are created in part by politicians and media personalities publicly saying that transgender women are just men pretending to be women so that they can perpetrate harm against women. But that idea is just not true and is unsupported by statistics.”
The conversation about transgender rights needs to be had without fear if progress is to be made.
“I don’t think there is one single action that could be taken to end violence and animosity towards the transgender community, but I do think there are a couple of good places to start,” said Raffetto. “People should be kinder to each other and not demonize each other for their differences. People need to stop trying to enact laws that target specific identities (gender, or otherwise) … people would do well to examine their fears and biases, so they can interact with others more healthily.”

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