Under California law, it is illegal for businesses open to the public to discriminate against any person based on their sex, gender identity, or gender expression. Though the law is clear, our client, Christynne Wood, was not permitted to utilize the women’s locker room and bathroom at Crunch Fitness gym in El Cajon because she is a transgender woman.

Ms. Wood has been a member of Crunch Fitness gym in El Cajon for around 12 years. Exercising at Crunch Fitness is an important and meaningful part of Ms. Wood’s life. Due to her diligent adherence to exercise programs, especially the water aerobics classes, Ms. Wood lost more than 100 pounds after joining Crunch. She formed many friendships at the gym with other gym members she met in aquatics classes and with the fitness instructors. 

Ms. Wood is currently 63 years old. Early in life, she knew that her gender identity was female, but did not feel comfortable expressing that publicly, fearing judgment and discrimination. After becoming more acquainted with the LGBTQ community, she gained confidence about identifying as a transgender woman. In 2016, she began transitioning to female with the support of health care providers.

Wood told the instructors and other participants in the water aerobics classes at Crunch about her transition. Even after her transition, she continued to use the men's locker room, but in September 2016 she began to get harassed there. Wood reported the harassment to Crunch Fitness management and asked to use the women’s facilities but was never given access. On Sept. 30, 2016, she gave Crunch management a letter from her doctor that confirmed her treatment and stated it was "very important" she be able to use the women’s facilities at the gym.

Wood still was not given access to the women’s locker room and bathrooms at Crunch, even after obtaining a Superior Court order legally changing her name and gender. She continued to face discrimination and harassment. In September 2017, almost one year after she presented the doctor’s letter to Crunch, she was finally permitted to access the women’s facilities.

The refusals to give Wood access to the women's facilities were clear violations of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination based on "a person's gender identity and gender expression." It goes on to define gender expression as "a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth."

Accordingly, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties, along with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and law firm Nixon Peabody LLP joined a state lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Wood.

The suit asks the court to order Crunch Fitness gym in El Cajon to provide all current and prospective members access to the locker rooms and bathrooms appropriate to their gender identities. It also asks that the gym be required to provide appropriate training to all managers and employees on obligations under the Unruh Act, with special emphasis on gender identity and the prevention of harassment. The suit also asks that monetary damages be paid to Wood, including those provided by the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

On December 8, 2021, a settlement was reached on behalf of Wood. Wood will receive a payment, and Crunch Fitness has agreed that all its employees will undergo anti-discrimination training, including the identification and prevention of harassment based on gender expression.

Settlement Agreement: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/wood_settlement_-_injuncti...

Complaint: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/aclu_socal_wood_20180502_c...


Melissa Deleon, Amanda Goad, Aditi Fruitwala Nixon Peabody, LLP: Michael Lindsay, Seth Levy

Date filed

June 11, 2018


San Diego Superior Court


Judge Wohlfeil



Case number