Tuesday, July 17, 2018

According to Liberty Counsel the mere presence of a trans person poses a threat

Mad Mat Staver
On Friday I received an email from hate group leader "Mad" Mat Staver. The subject reads: FL Fitness Center Endangers Women. It is an inaccurate and bigoted transphobic diatribe. A woman identified only as “Mrs. H.” went unhinged over the presence of a transgender woman in a women's facility at a Planet Fitness in Florida. The transgender woman is identified as Jordan Rice.

I have been unable to locate Ms. Rice. It is not Jordan Rice, the poet. As for Planet Fitness, the franchiser, they are headquartered in New Hampshire. I have made certain that senior-level personnel, the local franchisee and others know that Liberty Counsel is a hate group.

Liberty Counsel sent Planet Fitness their usual tirade threatening to sue (on behalf of Mrs. H). It is an exercise in bigotry signed by Mary E. McAlister and Richard L. Mast. While McAlister is associated with Liberty Counsel, she is basically a real estate lawyer. Mast has been with LC for a number of years.  You can reasonably assume that both “lawyers” prioritize their religion over common sense.

Throughout the letter they misgender Ms. Rice. The short version of their five page transphobic treatise is that Mrs. H complained about a transgender patron repeatedly. She even made a call to 911. She became a disruptive pest and her membership was rescinded. The wizards at LC don't seem to realize that each club is an independently owned and operated franchise so threatening to sue the parent company has no meaning. Making demands is nonsensical.

Furthermore, the Planet Fitness contract reads:
Planet Fitness reserves the right to refuse admission and/or; cancel any membership; at its sole discretion; without prior notification or warning. All decisions are final, no reason or recourse will be accepted, or explanation or discussion entered into. In the event that a membership is cancelled by Planet Fitness, NO refund of any payment by the member, including membership fees will be made.
Most members are paying $10 per month. Some are paying $21 per month which includes additional services. The membership agreement is awful. It is something that I would never sign but that is irrelevant.

According to LC:
Planet Fitness Leesburg took no action against Mr. Rice, but instead, without talking to Mrs. H. first, or getting her side of the story, sent her a cancellation notice, claiming that she had violated the Planet Fitness “Lunk” policy. This policy warns against “grunting, dropping weights, and judging.” Yet, Mrs. H. did none of those. It is not “judging” to question the presence of an obvious man in the women’s locker room who is intentionally depriving women of privacy, or parading himself naked in the women’s locker.
Sure. What action were they supposed to take against Ms. Rice? For what? Being transgender? If in fact Ms. Rice was naked then her privacy was at issue.

Liberty Counsel is making other absurd arguments. They seem to be claiming that Planet Fitness has run afoul of Florida's nondiscrimination laws as it pertains to women (hence, their client was discriminated against). They also seem to be claiming that, because Florida's nondiscrimination law does not include gender identity as a protected class, the facility is precluded from accommodating transgender patrons. They are also claiming religious discrimination because Mrs. H. does not believe that transgender people exist.

They also provide a link to a document at Planet Fitness University that does not exist. Then there is this bit of genius:
Planet Fitness is committing consumer fraud by failing to disclose, and failing to render in writing, policies permitting access of opposite-sex individuals to places where women have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
They make a host of demands that must be fulfilled by July 26 which include revisions to policy and reinstating Mrs. H. They have no right to revise the policies of the franchiser or franchisee. Liberty Counsel would be a champion of a discriminatory corporate policy even if it were unlawful.

If I owned the franchise I would offer to reinstate the member providing she agreed not to be further disruptive. I would have counsel notify Liberty Counsel that they would seek sanctions if LC posits specious legal arguments or makes unreasonable demands. That puts them on notice that they might be responsible for Planet Fitness' legal expenses.

The bottom line to all of this is that accommodating a transgender woman is perfectly legal. If a trans person posed an actual threat to someone that is legally equal to anyone posing a threat. The mere presence of a transgender person is not a threat to anyone. Indeed, transgender people, on the whole, do not pose a threat to anyone. Mrs. H is presumably as deranged as the idiots at Liberty Counsel.

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