A guide to O’Connor Rec Center for transgender and nonbinary people

| May 17, 2022
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Note: this guide was updated in January 2024.

Going to the gym is good for your physical, mental, and social well-being. It can be a place to build strength, relieve stress, and find friends and community. 

The university at large and the staff of SHWB and the O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being in particular aim to support all students and provide them equal access to every Hopkins resource. To that end, we’ve assembled a handful of FAQs that often arise when transgender and nonbinary O’Connor Rec Center members (and potential members) use the facility.

If you have a question that this list does not address, email us at either [email protected] or [email protected]We are dedicated to continuous learning and want to hear from you how we can make your experience as good as it can be. 

Q: Are members of the Rec Center staff gender-affirming?
A: Yes. Trainings throughout the year provide guidance to Recreation Center Staff on gender-inclusive language and correct pronoun usage. 

Q: I’ve never been to the Rec Center before. Can someone show me around?
A: If you contact the membership office, they can schedule a tour for you. If there’s anything in particular that you’d like to see, let them know when you make the appointment. 

Q: If I’m trans, can I use the restrooms and locker rooms that align with my gender?
A: Yes. You have the right to use spaces that correspond to your gender identity, and Rec Center staff will back up your right to use them.

Q: Are there gender-neutral restrooms? If so, where are they?
A: There are two gender-neutral restrooms in our complex. We have a gender-neutral restroom adjacent to the GoodParts Café, near the main entrance. It is a wheelchair-accessible single stall and includes a urinal. The second is in the Newton White Athletic Center, next to the Athletic Communications Office. This one is also wheelchair-accessible. Additionally, there is one dedicated gender-neutral changing and shower room near the pool. This room is not wheelchair-accessible.

Q: I’m interested in playing intramural and club sports. What options are available to transgender and nonbinary people?
A: All of them. Transgender and nonbinary folks have the right to play for any team in any sport they want.

Q: Are there any dress codes at this gym?
A: The Recreation Center has a dress code that applies to all patrons. Patrons must wear closed-toe sneakers with an athletic sole. Open-toed shoes, slip-on shoes, and bare feet are not permitted. To help protect the equipment, please no denim or cargo pants or shorts. Also, all patrons must wear workout attire with a top (t-shirt, sports bra, crop tops, stringers, etc.) and bottom (shorts, leggings, sweatpants, etc.). If you have any questions regarding the dress code please reach out to [email protected]. 

Q: Are there any gender-specific spaces on the floor? Some gyms have women-only areas.
A: No.

Q: Is there any gender-specific equipment in the building? How can I know what is best to use for me?
A: There are a few things that are described in a gender-specific way (like a women’s Olympic weightlifting bar) but there are no prescriptive rules about who can use them. You should use whatever works best for you.

Q: Is there any gender-specific programming at O’Connor?
A: We currently offer one program that is gender specific. The program is called “Empower Hour” and is a recurring event where women-identifying and nonbinary students can explore the weight room and learn about weightlifting. Check the Rec Center app to see when the next one is. This program will soon be expanded to offer additional sessions to serve and support a broader range of gender identities.

Q: Does the gym have a membership card? If so, can I have my preferred name on it?
A: If you have a J Card, your membership card is your J Card 

Affiliates, like spouses and partners, will get a “Rec card” and can select the name displayed on it. This card will also have a photo on it, which Rec Center staff will take when a member signs up.

Q: How do spouse/partner memberships work? What if my name doesn’t match legal documents needed for membership? 

A: First things first: the person enrolled in (or employed by) Hopkins must be a member of the gym in order for any spouse or partner to get a spouse/partner membership. The cost of spouse/partner memberships range between $48 and $312 depending on various factors.

Secondly, there is some documentation required. In the case of domestic partnerships, you must show two IDs (such as a driver’s license) with the same address, or a lease with both of your names on it. 

For married couples, if you have a marriage certificate or a joint lease, you can use that. For international couples, documentation of a sponsored partnership also qualifies. 

If you have changed your name since getting married or signing a lease, please bring documentation of the name change as well. 

Q: I’d feel most comfortable visiting and exploring the gym when it’s not so busy. What times tend to be quieter and less crowded?
A: Late mornings and late afternoons tend to be the slowest times. Avoid the early morning, the lunch rush, and the 4-8pm post-work window. (Pro tip: if you enjoy a quieter workout, the third floor tends to be less noisy at all times of day.)

Q: If I want to buy a session with a personal trainer, what can I expect?
A: A personal trainer will respect your gender identity and pronouns. When working with a trainer, please share any relevant details about your goals for training, physical capabilities/limitations, and ways that they can support your goals.

Q: Do you hope that I come check out O’Connor?
A: Yes, so much. It’s an amazing facility with a supportive staff dedicated to continuous learning so we can better serve the Hopkins community. We hope you visit us soon. 

Q: If I have a problem or a question, who should I ask?
A: You can always email [email protected] or [email protected]. Additionally, you can peruse the staff list to see if there’s someone who might be best equipped to answer your exact question. We would love to get your feedback, so we can best meet your needs.