Urban Outfitters has always presented themselves as an edgy, modern brand, so it’s disappointing that customer Nicholas Gorham had a transphobic experience at one of their Los Angeles stores. Gorham, who identifies as gender fluid, was turned away from the women’s dressing rooms and singled out by an employee. In an effort to raise awareness, Gorham penned an important essay for Mic about the ordeal.
“On this particular day in L.A., what started as a simple errand took a rather heavy turn,” they begin. Joined by their friend Tamara, Gorham browsed the store and selected a few items to try on. “When we got to the dressing rooms, Tamara, a cis woman, was taken in and given a room before the attendant began leading me to a completely different area to change.”
The employee explained that this was because there were “young girls” in the other area. Even though Gorham explained that they were trans, the employee said this was the policy,
“The best way to describe the way I felt was appalled and belittled,” Gorham told Refinery29. “The fact that they were effectively saying that there’s no law so case closed, was, I think the worst part. I feel like companies and people should be given a chance to catch up with policy changes and figuring out how to navigate through the new gender landscape, but when the response is blind and inflexible, that’s when we really have to start speaking out.”
So they tweeted about the incident, and Urban responded.
OK Urban Outfitters, good to know! pic.twitter.com/DkC9MPJght
— Nicholas Gorham (@NicholasGorham)
For Gorham, this isn’t as much about them as it is about younger trans customers who are more vulnerable.
“My real concern is for the teenager shopping with their best friend who is told they have to change on the other side of the store, based on some CEO’s idea of their gender,” they write. “What happens to the kid who sees that their identity is only worth acknowledging when a law is passed?”
“Telling someone that as an employee they are not bound by law to treat human beings fairly is just bad business,” Gorham concludes.
When Refinery29 reached out to Urban Outfitters, they responded with this statement:
“We take all customer feedback seriously and were very surprised and concerned that our official protocols were not followed in one of our stores.Our fitting rooms are gender neutral and open to our customers who are trying on our products. We apologize and deeply regret this shopper did not have a positive experience and are looking into why our policies were not followed. Furthermore, we do not endorse any laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and we have supported charities that are actively fighting the anti-LGBTQ HB-2 law in North Carolina. Again, we will immediately determine how and why our policy was not followed consistently and we regret any uncomfortable experience our valued shopper may have had.”
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