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Transgender Legal Considerations for Health Club Operators

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Paul R. Bedard, EsquirePaul R. Bedard, Esquire

If a transgender individual requests access to the locker room within your club that corresponds with their gender identity, how do you or your front line staff respond? This question, like most, is one that is best answered with the benefit of advance preparation. This requires the proactive formulation of a policy that complies with your specific jurisdictional requirements and the thorough training of your employees in this regard. Once enacted, your policy should be included within your employee training materials and within your membership agreement.

A transgender person can be defined as someone who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one that corresponds to their sex at birth. Transgender law is a relatively new, very complex and rapidly evolving area of law. Legal analysis of federal, state and local legislation, along with the case law within your jurisdiction, is required for effective policy formulation. Transgender legal considerations within the health club industry often revolve around locker room access policies, the primary focus of this article.

When discussing potential articles for Club Insider with Norm Cates, Publisher, I suggested the article topic to help club owners and operators focus on important legal matters for their clubs and deal with them appropriately. Norm welcomed the topic, and this article is the result.

This article will provide some basic information regarding legislative and court developments within the realm of transgender law and will discuss how these developments should be considered in respect to your club's policies and operational expectations.

This article is not intended as legal advice. Widely varying state and local laws and case precedents specific to each jurisdiction, as well as factors that are truly unique to each situation, prohibit one-size-fits-all recommendations. In particular, there remains much to be written within the specific area of transgender law involving a transgender person's rights to locker room access, and this area of law therefore requires contemporary analysis specific to each scenario. Please consider these comments as merely a guide to help you when you consult your attorney for specific direction.

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