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.