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Trans woman settles lawsuit against El Cajon gym

Trans woman settles lawsuit against El Cajon gym
Posted at 4:32 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 20:41:05-05

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - A trans woman calls the settlement of a civil suit against an El Cajon gym a ‘validation,’ after she says she was repeatedly denied access to the women's locker room.

“Absolutely elated, absolutely elated,” said Christynne Wood, 65.

More than five years after her ordeal began, Wood says the fight was worth it.

“My great-grandmother told me that when the cause is just, don’t you dare give up,” said Wood.

Wood, a longtime member at Crunch Fitness in El Cajon, says in 2016, after she began her transition, she was harassed by a male gym member. Wood says she asked managers to use the women's locker room, but they repeatedly denied her access, for nearly a year, despite a doctor's note confirming her transition, and even after she legally changed her gender.

“I was told, ’We’re not going to give you access until gender-confirming surgery.’ That’s absolutely against the law. In our opinion, you’re not a woman enough or enough of a woman. Do you know how that hurts?” said Wood.

ABC 10News first spoke to Wood in 2018, after the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil suit against the gym, alleging discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.

“It makes me cry that it had to get to this degree,” said Wood in that interview.

The ACLU later joined the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Wood settled with the gym for an undisclosed amount of money. Part of the settlement will include anti-discrimination training for gym employees.

“I hope this increases the education level for those provide services. This settlement sends the message of responsibility and legal obligations to protect those who go to your services and to follow the law while you do it. This is about human rights. We deserve those protections,” said Wood.

Michael Israel, an attorney for the limited liability company that owns the gym, issued the following statement:

“Crunch Fitness – Jamacha is glad to have resolved the matter with Ms. Wood and the related claims. It is important to note that the gym’s ownership and management changed after the alleged situation occurred, and Ms. Wood was permitted to use the women’s locker room shortly after the ownership change. The lawsuits, seeking damages for each time Ms. Wood came to the gym, were filed after Ms. Wood began using the women’s locker room. Crunch Fitness – Jamacha values every member of the community and strives to meet the fitness needs of everyone throughout San Diego County.”