Editor's Note: Guest blogger Guest blogger Andé Morgan is a queer person of color and a freelance writer, covering topics in popular culture and LGBTQ issues. As a staff writer for Bitch Flicks, Andé reviews films from a feminist perspective.
A lingerie store in Austin, Texas, faced a strong social media backlash after an employee allegedly discriminated against a transgender woman last week.
On June 28, Kylie Jack (right) described being humiliated at Petticoat Fair, an established Austin lingerie store, on her Facebook page. Jack went to the store to request a bra fitting. She says an employee there asked for proof of her gender, e.g., an ID stating that Jack was female. The employee also stated that Jack could get a fitting only if she'd had SRS (sex reassignment surgery, also known as "bottom" surgery).
Response to Jack's post was swift. Many transgender people and allies posted to Petticoat Fair's Facebook page, wrote reviews on Yelp, and sent emails to the store to express their displeasure. For example, Casey Clough wrote,
"People are people, breasts are breasts, and people with breasts need bras. What is in their pants is none of your business. Bigotry is ugly. I will not shop in your store again, and I know that I am far from the only one. Very bad move in the city of Austin."
Kirk Andrews, owner of Petticoat Fair, issued a statement on June 29 that many are calling a non-apology:
"Hello, Based on today's posts to this page and elsewhere, there seems to be a misconception that Petticoat Fair has a policy of not working with the transgendered [sic] community. That is not the case. In fact, we have served the transgendered community for most of our 50 years in Austin. What we do have is a policy regarding who may or may not enter our fitting rooms.
We regret and apologize for the unfortunate experience relayed here by Kylie Jack after visiting our store yesterday. We are reaching out directly, to find a time when we can work to accommodate Kylie's needs.
We have fitters who are experienced with fitting women in all stages of life, and we aim to make all women (transgendered and cisgendered [sic]) feel comfortable in our store. The dressing room area is a particularly private and vulnerable place for many women and girls, so it's a protected area. For that reason, we also have a completely separate dressing area for women who have undergone mastectomies and need post-surgical care. (Our fitter invited Kylie and companion into this part of our store so they could have this delicate conversation privately.) Just as a gym won't allow men in a women's dressing room (and vice versa) for the comfort and safety of its patrons, we don't allow men or boys above a certain age in our dressing area. Despite our otherwise inclusive approach, those who might be or who outwardly appear to be men (regardless of how they are dressed) pose a delicate challenge, and in the case of impostors, can pose a safety risk to the Petticoat Fair staff [emphasis added]..."
Many were not convinced.