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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Chicagoan continues fight against alleged transphobia at Orangetheory
by Lu Calzada

This article shared 10875 times since Mon Mar 11, 2024
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After allegedly dealing with transphobia at a Chicago Orangetheory beginning in 2018, Jes Favers du Shine is still holding out hope for the organization to take measures addressing those issues.

In 2020, Windy City Times reported on Favers du Shine's experience, which they also chronicled in a blog post. In the post, they discussed multiple times at the Chi-Edge location they were forced to choose male or female on forms and how Favers du Shine responded by trying to educate staff members on why this is harmful, eventually canceling their membership in 2020. The original WCT story chronicled Orangetheory's response, but Favers du Shine said the company was just making empty promises.

After trying Orangetheory again August 2022 at its Evanston location, they made the decision to officially cancel their membership February 2024 after allegedly countless incidents of misgendering and more attempts to educate staff. Favers du Shine said in a recent blog post the rise of anti-trans hate along with Orangetheory's headquarters being in Florida pushed them to make the decision.

At this point in their experience, Favers du Shine said they have spoken with two different franchises and corporate who have all said they were going to fix the issues. They said they hope folks can boycott if they're Orangetheory members or, if they're not, they can post about this experience online or call them to demand change. Favers du Shine's most recent blog post also has a flier people can hand out outside Orangetheory locations.

"[I just want] people to know what happened," they said. "I think there's a lot of people who are actual allies, and not performative allies like Orangetheory, who would support this change."

They said they receive emails every so often from people replying to the original 2020 blog post thanking them for posting about their experience and sharing their story.

Favers du Shine said that, in a perfect world, Orangetheory would allow a write-in for gender on their online form if they even ask for gender at all, and explain in-depth why they are asking for the information. They said the company would hopefully use this same approach with their heart rate monitors—which are used in their workouts to try to measure workout performance more scientifically. If there are machines that can't be changed in-house, Favers du Shine would have a disclaimer that they have to ask these questions, but recognize it does not include all possible options.

They also said that they wished Orangetheory would give proceeds from selling rainbow items to trans people of color who work in the fitness industry.

Favers du Shine said Orangetheory's lack of acknowledgement for their concerns and complaints affected them especially since they promote being an inclusive place and carry rainbow merchandise. They said it's "really scary" to see individuals or corporations who claim to be LGBTQ-friendly perpetuate this behavior.

"It hurts more when it's coming from someone who's saying they're on your side," they said. "Anyone who's saying 'I care about you, I care about this, I'm an ally,' when they do wrong, that stings a lot worse than some random person on the street who doesn't care about you or isn't invested in you."

Windy City Times contacted Orangetheory corporate for comment, but the company has not responded at the time of publication.

Favers du Shine also said their experience is part of a bigger problem, since Orangetheory is headquartered in Florida, a state with some of the worst anti-trans laws and sentiments in state government. They said simply having recognition for non-binary and gender-nonconforming on forms shouldn't be a big statement or task, even if there was some transphobic backlash.

Despite seeking a different gym that they would feel welcome in, Favers du Shine said they haven't found one in a convenient location that works for them yet. They said this has unfortunately made them have to choose between a conveniently-located gym that affirms them, going to one that doesn't, or not going at all.

"That pattern of prioritizing profit … and people's comfort over our safety and actual existence, [is] representative of so much more," they said. "That piece of mission statement [highlighting an inclusive community] on their website, don't tell me you're going to do that for me if you're not."

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This article shared 10875 times since Mon Mar 11, 2024
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