virgin active, transgender

A Cape Town Virgin Active gym has confirmed a transgender member’s gender identity via documentation. Image via Facebook: Virgin Active

Virgin Active confirms trans member’s ‘female identity’ after sauna shock

Virgin Active revealed that a transgender member has confirmed their gender identity via documentation amid safety concerns.

virgin active, transgender

A Cape Town Virgin Active gym has confirmed a transgender member’s gender identity via documentation. Image via Facebook: Virgin Active

Virgin Active claims a “male” gym-goer who was spotted in a female sauna has provided the relevant documentation to confirm their “identity as a female.” This comes amid the gym’s new “inclusive environment” that permits transgender members to choose a change room that aligns with their “gender identity.”

The company – founded by British businessman Richard Branson – has faced criticism from the public, who have threatened to cancel their membership amid the incident.


Last week, Virgin Active members shared their safety concerns after an alarming report of a “male” who was spotted in a female-only area in a Cape Town branch.

@FreeInduna tweeted: “Just had a second report of a male in the female steam room at Virgin Active Claremont—bits out and all. If you do witness this, do not report it to staff. Report it to the police as indecent exposure, please”.

The tweep added: “A granny reported him to the front desk and was just ignored.”

Amid safety concerns for women and young children, Virgin Active responded that it had made contact with the affected persons. It added that it was treating the incident as “a matter of urgency.”

The X account has since revealed that the member “voluntarily provided all required documentation, confirming her identity as a female.”

It added: “As such, she is permitted to use the female facilities.”

A few days earlier, Virgin Active announced that it would permit transgender members to use areas that are “aligned with their gender identity.” This, amid a prerequisite that such members “have transitioned and updated their identification documents to align with their gender identity.”

When questioned how it would determine “fully transitioned” status, Virgin Active responded that it would “request further criteria to ensure the process has been completed.”

This would include “necessary supporting documentation, and where necessary medical records.”

Virgin Active also advised any concerned members to use family change rooms and specialised facilities to “ensure a comfortable environment for all.”


Amid the backlash, Virgin Active implored the public to exercise “empathy and understanding” with all people who shared their spaces.

It posted: “It’s important to approach discussions around gender identity and inclusivity with empathy and understanding.

“Gender identity is a deeply personal aspect of a person’s identity.”

virgin active, transgender
Virgin Active SA has taken a stance on their transgender members. Images via Facebook: Virgin Active SA/Pixabay


According to the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act 49 of 2003. Section 2(1), transgender people are legally permitted to change their gender marker.

The act reads:  “Any person whose sexual characteristics have been altered by surgical or medical treatment or by evolvement through natural development resulting in gender reassignment, or any person who is intersexed may apply to the Director-General of the National Department of Home Affairs for the alteration of the sex description on his or her birth register.”

An application should include medical reports from the doctors who carried out the surgery. However, the act does not make it compulsory that an applicant have had gender reassignment surgery. According to the act, hormonal treatment is considered sufficient.

If the application is granted, an order will be issued to alter the sex description in the birth register. An amended birth certificate will then be reissued.