THUNDER BAY – Movati Gym closed its doors early on Saturday in anticipation of public protests centred around the gym’s change-room policy.
Stephanie Danylko, the organizer of the gathering of roughly 15 people, said it was not a protest, but a way to raise awareness about Movati’s change-room policy that she claims allows men into the women’s change room.
Danylko said that everything stems from an incident she said she had in the change room a few weeks ago.
“On April 28 I went to the gym and so they have a women's only steam room, sauna, change room and showers. So, I went into the sauna and there was a man in the sauna,” she said.
“He was very chatty with me, I was cordial with him, I answered back, I wasn't rude or anything, and so, by the time that he walked out of the sauna and that allowed, you know, me to get, have a shower, get changed, everything.”
Danylko claims that when she returned to the change room, the other sauna goer had been sitting on the change room bench watching women undress.
Danylko said that when she went to say something to to staff about the other patron, she was informed that Movati was an inclusive facility, so she left and filed a complaint with police.
Danylko posted the events to social media and said that she had received support from a lot of people online and after her membership had been cancelled by Movati, she decided to organize the gathering to spread awareness.
In response Danylko’s gathering, the Rainbow Collective of Thunder Bay organized its own gathering of roughly 250 people to stand in solidarity with Movati, said the organization's president, Jason Veltri, noting trans, non-binary and queer issues are being used as a political weapon.
“Unfortunately, in 2023, we're here protesting the right to exist, and unfortunately that is the sad reality of where we are today,” he said.
“But if you look behind me, you know there's hundreds of our community standing together with allies and politicians and leaders in this community to say that we're not going to tolerate hate and ignorance any longer.”
Veltri said that the gym’s response to the situation was exactly what should be happening in society today.
“There is a code of conduct, there are human rights requirements for all businesses and for them to cancel the membership of this individual and to stand with trans folk to say that Movati is an inclusive, welcoming, and accepting place to work out, do your thing come, work out, go home, live your life,” he said.
“We couldn't have been more happy with their response to standing with our communities to ensure that human rights matter.”
Movati’s official policy regarding washrooms is available on its website and states members are encouraged to use the change room they feel the most comfortable and safe in and that the gym has zero tolerance for hate speech, behaviours, or actions that may be deemed discriminatory.