This excellent article was provided by Seahorse Society of Queensland Inc
I challenge any of you to find a TG unfriendly store, they may exist, but I have never come across one. 99.9% of stores are TG friendly, how friendly they are depends on YOUR attitude in the store. You have every right to be going shopping for anything and with a confident, friendly and smiling attitude the shopping world is your oyster. People employed in the retail industry don't discriminate against people with physical or mental disabilities, colour, race, culture or religion. You are a member of the TG community and there is no reason for you to feel ashamed of this simply because it is (another) minority group.
I'm going to offer you some tips and I'll break it up into two sections.
Shopping in boy-mode
First let's look at a situation where you do not have the confidence to shop in femme mode.
- Shop well away from your local area, go across town to a shopping centre where nobody will know you.
- Do not be furtive, walk with confidence (after all you could be shopping for your wife or mother, it does happen) Men acting furtively in ladies fashion shops are seen as perverts - don't do anything that will allow the assistants to perceive you as sinister.
- Tell the assistants that you are a cross-dresser (Yes I know this takes guts, but they have no idea who you are and they are never going to see you again) and ask if they mind if you browse around to look for some suitable stuff. You can possibly broach this by simply stating that you are actually looking for something for yourself rather than coming out with words like "cross-dresser' or "transgender", it is a bit easier. Because your confidence levels are still a bit shaky you are best to do this when the store is not busy (if it is, leave and come back later. I find the best time to shop is 2-3pm weekdays during school term) and away from the other customers.
- If by some slim chance they indicate they are not comfortable, thank them and leave the store - there are a million other stores waiting for your business.
- Try and ask the assistants for advice, this builds up rapport, and they will probably love the challenge.
- Trying stuff on in the store can be tricky, and you really need to know they are comfortable with it, and that you are comfortable with it. The thing here is that they have other female customers in the changing cubicle area and the staff does need to take into account how those customers are going to feel with a man in there.
- A way round this is to ask about their refund policy. If they have an open refund policy (and most of the big chains have - some of them don't, so be sure to ask) buy the items, take them home to try. If they are no good they can be taken back for a refund. The big chains allow refunds at any of their stores so you could take it back to your local one on the premise that you wife has asked you to do it.
If you are now comfortable with going shopping in your femme mode, it's all so much easier. Apart from anything else trying stuff on will show what it looks like on your femme body, a whole different aspect.
However there are still one or two tricks.
- They can already see you are TG, so explanations are unnecessary, however do not attempt to "pass" as a woman, they will see through you in two seconds flat. They are going to know you are TG, accept it and move on.
- Act with feminine decorum. No bellowing out across the store in loud baritone. Speak softly in your normal voice. Address the staff as a woman would, no "Love", "Sweetie" , "Darl" or other revolting terms that men (and some women) sometimes call women by. Women call each other by their names so if you can read her name badge, call her by her name.
- You are now in a far better position to try the stuff on in store, however good manners still dictates that you should ask first. I have never been knocked back. A couple of times in David Jones I have been ushered into a back office rather than the main cubicles, but I've still been treated with respect and friendliness. Whilst in the change cubicles, speak softly and don't step out half naked to admire yourself in the main mirror.
- You have consumer rights, you have every right to be in that store and to go through the motions of purchasing their products, However, you need to temper your rights with their rights and that is they have a right to be treated with respect and friendliness.
The staff in ladies fashion boutiques are customer friendly, they discriminate only in one thing, and that is on how friendly and respectful the customers are to them. Customers, who are brash, arrogant or act in a suspicious and furtive manner, will get short shrift.
You are a TG, be proud of yourself, you are a special and lovely person, and be comfortable with yourself. Treat your self with respect and love and you will automatically treat others in the same way. Walk into any shop or restaurant with this attitude and you will be treated like a queen (pardon the dreadful pun!)
TG-friendly shops? All of them!
I asked the Manageress of my local Rockmans store, with whom I have become quite friendly, to look at this article. She endorsed it fully. She also told me that around 50% of customers treat her and her staff with anything ranging from indifference to downright rudeness; and there are a lot of bad manners, disdain and arrogance in between. They are sensitive to cultural differences (Now there's a new term for us - culturally disadvantaged!)
Just be polite and friendly to them and you will almost certainly be treated the same.
Be aware the voice of paranoia. Having shopped in a certain store, I noticed that one of the assistants was rather offhand. I naturally assumed she wasn't particularly taken with cross-dressers. I mentioned this to my friend from Rockmans and was told "Her?-she's unfriendly to everyone. Nothing special about you, she's offhand to all the customers" Sales assistants are human, they have personal problems, get sick, have off days, or, as in the case mentioned here, are in the wrong industry. Don't take offhandedness personally; there may be many other reasons.
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