Internet Rises To Defend Trans Woman Ironically Excluded By ‘Inclusive’ Bra Shop


A well-known Austin, Texas, bra shop is on the receiving end of what seems to be a highly deserved amount of controversy after allegedly refusing to fit a trans woman. Yesterday, Austin resident Kylie Jack described a humiliating experience at the store, where an employee questioned her gender and refused to allow her into a fitting room.

“Hello Austinites: today I went for a bra fitting at Petticoat Fair, where an employee humiliated me by asking for ID stating I was female and saying I needed bottom surgery in order to get a fitting,” said Kylie Jack on her Facebook page.

Petticoat Fair is a well-known Austin lingerie shop that says it has specialized “in custom fitting of women’s intimate apparel since 1964.”

The shop reportedly first asked to see Jack’s ID to prove she was female, and then allegedly told her that she would have to have had surgery to be fitted there. None of that seems to make much sense. Trans women may or may not choose to undergo surgery for any number of reasons, which are their own, and genital surgery is irrelevant to bra-fitting anyway. I’ve been wearing bras since I was 12, and I’m fairly certain that bras and vaginas have nothing to do with each other.

Many people were obviously displeased by that show of discrimination, and the shop’s Facebook page was flooded with comments demanding an apology. In response to the controversy, Petticoat Fair owner Kirk Andrews made an announcement on the store’s Facebook page to affirm the store’s “inclusive” policy, but in a way that doesn’t seem very inclusive at all.

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 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. …

Andrews does not seem to understand that a policy that involves not allowing trans women in fitting rooms is inherently discriminatory, and any policy that requires trans women to have had genital surgery to enter a fitting room is ludicrous. Andrews continues:

If it’s unclear whether a customer is a man or a woman, we err on the side of caution as a protocol, but never on the side of discrimination or intolerance.

But requiring customers to “pass” to the satisfaction of a shop bra fitter is discrimination, and the idea that anyone has a right to question a customer about her genitals before allowing her into a bra fitting room is absurd. In spite of Andrews’ assertions that the store welcomes trans customers, his policies as he describes them are not nearly as inclusive as he seems to think they are. His customers should not have to run a gauntlet, have surgery, or perform any kind of embarrassing “proof” to be allowed into dressing rooms.

In spite of the posted non-apology that does not do anything to make Petticoat Fair’s alleged actions seem any less discriminatory, Andrews does, however, sound open to further education on the topic. He has expressed a willingness to work with the Transgender Education Network of Texas to discuss a better approach to his store’s trans customers. Hopefully they will help Petticoat Fair develop more trans inclusive dressing room policies so what happened to Kylie Jack will not happen again. A real apology would also be a good start.

[H/T Jezebel]

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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    • Samantha Escobar

      “If it’s unclear whether a customer is a man or a woman, we err on the
      side of caution as a protocol, but never on the side of discrimination
      or intolerance.”
      - It’s actually very clear, because the woman says she’s a woman and is getting a fucking bra fitting.
      - By erring on the “side of caution” as though a woman who may have been born with male anatomy is somehow a threat, they are inherently diving onto the side of discrimination and intolerance.

      • LisaDisqus

        Well put! What the hell are they so cautious of? Is someone gonna catch a case of penis? It’s just a little piece of anatomy. It doesn’t define a trans woman as anything other than a real woman.

      • JenH1986

        She might see boobs that aren’t her own. Can’t have that now, can we?

    • Heather C

      Arrrgh, asking for ID “to prove” anything other than that you’re legal to buy beer is RIDICULOUS. Great customer service.

    • Lana

      Listen, I get it. And it’s obviously a sensitive issue that is going to have to be addressed across the board by lots of lingerie stores because obviously there are trans people who are going to need to shop for underwear and they should be allowed to do so without being treated in a gross way.

      But have you ever WORKED in a lingerie store? I did. In college, I worked for a certain chain lingerie store where winged people are part of the advertising. And yeah, we had one trans customer that I know of who used to come in and try on and buy whatever she wanted, and probably more than one trans customer that we had no idea were trans who also came in, used the fitting rooms, and bought whatever they wanted. Know what else we had? Fucking pervy guys. LOADS of them. Guys who wanted you to try shit on and model it for them. Guys who used to come in and quiz you about your underwear. Guys who would call on the phone obviously jerking off to ask questions about thongs. And guys who would try to access the fitting rooms by any means necessary…I never saw one pretending to be a woman to do so, but I wouldn’t doubt that it was something that has happened other places. Not because they’re living as a woman and really need a bra, but because they have a fetish and they want to get into the dressing room to do stuff. Stuff that is uncomfortable to other shoppers and isn’t fair for them to have to deal with. So, as a worker in such a store, how do you know, really? And what do you do if you feel like someone might be faking it to get into the fitting room? Where is the line between protecting the rights of the legitimately trans person to try on and buy underwear and protecting the rights of other customers to try on underwear without fearing that someone who shouldn’t be in the fitting room is going to sneak in there?

      • Clarissa

        You can generally tell if someone is trans and is really transitioning vs. a perv guy trying to do those things “pretending” to be a woman. I think it’s a little offensive to compare trans women to fucking pervy guys. If you never saw one pretending to be a woman doing perverted things like that Lana, then that should answer your question.

      • LisaDisqus

        Yes, I have worked in a lingerie store, for five years. And yes I did deal with the odd guy being a wanker. I also had some men come in over the years who were cross dressers and some women in different stages of transition. If companies want to make this really simple they should have completely enclosed dressing rooms like we did. No chance of any “pervs” peeping. No “good christian” folks able to see who’s trying on what either. And as for what’s going on in the dressing room, not letting males in the dressing room doesn’t mean you won’t have a female “perv” doing something unsavory in there. Sorry Lana but your argument just doesn’t hold water.

      • Mabel Louise

        Very true. This is Austin Tx. The city of weirdos, kinky sex, trans, gay community. There HAVE been men dressed as women who’re allowed into these dressing rooms and have completely violated and ejaculated all over the place. Why do you think they have to have such policies? No penises in the dressing room… People really don’t understand the severity and need for female privacy. I wouldn’t want to do a private fitting on a person with a penis even if they had breasts.

      • Lana

        I agree with no penises in the dressing room. But apparently, you and I are the minority, and the right of a person to claim to be “trans” to gain access to areas that are typically women only trumps our objection. I mean, if “she” was obvious enough that the employee felt uncomfortable and asked for ID…it must be that the employee is an evil bigot. Not, you know, that she was concerned for other customers, or that she was uncertain about going into a fitting room with someone who was a man dressed as a woman as far as she could tell and maybe worried about her own safety, or because she’s had past negative experiences. The world is totally not full of awful people who do gross things to people who get paid minimum wage to work retail. Fun fact; most retail establishments that don’t have public or customer restrooms don’t have them not because they’re evil and want to discriminate against people who have to pee, but because they’re tired of cleaning up feces smeared on the floor and walls, which is a thing that happens in public bathrooms, everywhere, almost every day. Shitty people ruin things for unshitty people.

      • Colleen

        Wait a second. Anytime I’ve been in a fitting/change room at a retail store, it hasn’t been communal. I have my very own space, complete with a door,so the only person who’s seeing my breasts is me (and a fitter if I request one after losing/gaining weight). So, if there was a person in the change area with a penis, no breasts, one breast or three, I wouldn’t be aware. I wouldn’t care. Transwomen, cross-dressing straight men, saggy boobs, perky boobs, no boobs…everyone is welcome in my fitting rooms, because I’m not going to see you anyways.

      • Jade-Yue-Ryu

        Well…honestly if you’ve gone far enough to get tits that need a bra in the first place I’d say that concern is void although I do get where you’re coming from, having seen said pervs in action.

    • fashion24hours

      Anyway,lingeries are important to everyone.