David Lloyd Leisure says it ‘welcomes’ trans members, after backlash over ‘birth gender’ statement

File photo. A man runs in a gym

David Lloyd Leisure has said it provides a “welcoming” environment for trans people, with the company CEO saying it has no practice of asking trans members for a Gender Recognition Certificate if they want to use the changing rooms of their choice.

The latest statement from the gym chain, sent to PinkNews, comes after the business sparked outrage when a David Lloyd Leisure spokesperson told HuffPost that trans members had to use “facilities designated for their birth gender,” unless they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate.

However, David Lloyd Leisure, which has 84 gyms across the UK, has now clarified its stance on the matter, after PinkNews obtained an email from CEO Glenn Earlam.

David Lloyd CEO: “We do not have a practice of asking people for a Gender Recognition Certificate”

In the email, which was sent in response to a complaint, Earlam said that the business follows the advice of gym association Ukactive, and has a policy of “recognising all individuals as belonging to the sex that they present.”

He added: “We do not have a practice of asking people for a Gender Recognition Certificate and as far as I am aware, we have never done so.”

Sarah Lacey, PR Executive at David Lloyds Club, confirmed to PinkNews that Earlam had sent the email in response to an enquiry.

She said Earlam wrote the letter in “an effort to clarify our position given recent reporting.”

David Lloyd says it recognises the “particular challenges facing our transgender members”

In an amended statement sent to PinkNews, the company said: “David Lloyd Leisure has always worked to ensure that our clubs offer the highest quality facilities, and provide a welcoming environment to all, regardless of ability, race, sexuality or gender.

“We have zero tolerance for any behaviour which puts at risk, disrespects or causes concern to our members or to our team.”

The statement continued: “We recognise the particular challenges facing our transgender members and would never knowingly seek to disadvantage or discomfort them, or any of our members.

“We always have, and will continue to, trust and support our local teams to work with individual members to resolve any issues and sensitivities, one to one.”

David Lloyd gym: File photo. A woman rolls a yoga mat

A woman rolls a yoga mat. (Stock photo)

PinkNews has asked David Lloyd Leisure to explain the original statement sent to HuffPost and is awaiting further comment.

Under the Equality Act 2010, service providers have been legally obliged to give trans people access to facilities in accordance with their gender identity, including single-sex space, for years.

This exception to this requirement is where operators can show there is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”

Following the comments made by a David Lloyd Leisure spokesperson to HuffPost, the company faced a boycott from the trans community and its allies.

Trans Equality Legal Initiative, a coalition of human rights lawyers and trans campaigners, said on Twitter: “We are concerned to hear @DavidLloydUK would deny access to a trans people seeking to use a changing room in line with their gender.

“This would appear to conflict with rules under Equality Act 2010. Shocking hostile environment for trans people in the UK.”

Others on Twitter vowed to cancel their memberships of David Lloyd gyms to protest the “disgraceful” policy.

The UK government is currently working on plans to update the process by which people can obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate in order to legally change their gender.

Trans campaigners have criticised the current system for being overly-bureaucratic and intrusive, requiring individuals to have lived in their “acquired gender” for at least two years.

This means that a significant number of British citizens that identify as trans do not possess a Gender Recognition Certificate because they do not want to go through the existing process.