Trans friendly shopping – an answer

February 8, 2011 § 9 Comments

So, I actually got an answer from TopMan. Who knew? In their own words:

Dear CN

Thank you for your email of 4 February, following your recent visit to our Topman store at Oxford Circus.

I was extremely concerned to learn of your experience and I would like to begin by offering my sincere apologies for the obvious upset you were caused.

All our staff are aware that, as a business, we do not tolerate discrimination in any form, and the staff in question should have received specific training regarding dealing with potentially delicate situations such as this.

As I know you will appreciate, we do have to be sensitive to the needs and interests of all our customers, and take into account the feelings of all visitors to our stores.  With this in mind, in most of our stores we feel it is appropriate to have specific ‘male’ and ‘female’ fitting rooms in the relevant departments, and limit their use to the respective genders. I realise however, that this places customers such as yourself in a potentially awkward situation, and we expect our staff to use their discretion and common sense to ensure that nobody is made to feel uncomfortable. As the fitting rooms in Topman Oxford Circus are divided into cubicles you should have been allowed to use them and I am very sorry that you were subjected to such an embarrassing experience.

Whilst I am confident that the staff members concerned intended no offence, I appreciate from your comments, both in your email and on your blog, how their reaction made you feel, and I would like to assure you that I have spoken at length with the Topman Sales Manager and he will ensure that the necessary retraining is undertaken as a matter of urgency.

I completely understand your reluctance to visit Topman again, but I very much hope that you will have the confidence to visit us at some point in the future. With this in mind, I would like to send you a £50.00 Gift Card to put towards a purchase in store.  If you are happy to accept this, please let me know your postal address and I will have it sent to you right away.

Once again I am sorry that this situation occurred, but I am pleased that you have brought it to our attention.  If there is anything else I can help you with, or if you have any questions that remain unanswered, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting an apology of this sort. And I have to say – I’m pretty happy with it. Particularly the point about necessary retraining. I just spoke to the Customer Services Team Leader, and she had some really quite hopeful things to say about staff sensitivity. So hurray on that front.

Oh, which brings me to my second point. Because I totally prefer gentle nagging to upset ranting. Heard of these guys?

The Trans Clothing Project is an incredible scheme that aims to provide gender-appropriate clothes to trans people who are having a hard time accessing them – for reasons such as homelessness, unemployment or an unsupportive environment.

And the nagging? I’ve been meaning to donate to them for a while – I have a whole stack of pretty girl clothes that were given to me/purchased for dragged up auditions a long time ago, that haven’t been worn and really need to be loved. And they could get more use out of a TopMan gift voucher than I could (because, let’s be honest – I would just spend it all on exciting comic-book boxers).

And you, dear reader, cis or trans – honestly, don’t you have some lovely things you just don’t wear? Maybe they’re the wrong gender, maybe the wrong size or colour or your realised that, as much as you wish you could, you just can’t pull off paisley. It’s ok – we all have our limitations. So have a think – and then drop them a line at transclothing@gmail.com

I’m as misanthropic as they come – and if I can get excited about this project then so can you. Wow – it might be an ok kind of a day after all.

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§ 9 Responses to Trans friendly shopping – an answer

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