If there's anything we've learned from past primaries, it's that, in order to bring forth change in society, we need to take matters into our own hands. We saw that on Tuesday, when the Democratic Party fêted a sweep of progressive wins across state elections, and now, it seems one Twitter user might have been the catalyst for Topshop's decision to join other retailers in moving their policies forward, too. As confirmed via a spokesperson to the Daily Mail, the company revealed it updated its policies to reflect the 60+ genders that exist today, abolishing its cisgendered dressing room statutes and opening them to all customers.
In a series of tweets by Travis Alabanza, the London-based performance artist called out a Manchester branch of the retailer for allegedly ignoring their requests to change in the dressing room of the gender they identify. "Hey @Topshop just experienced transphobia in your Manchester store. Not letting me use the changing room I decide is shit, sort it out," they wrote. As told to Buzzfeed, Albanza recounted their in-store experience with one of Topshop's associates: "I said, ‘I’m not going to be safe down there. What do you want me to do?’ and they just kind of shrugged." They went on to explain why gendered changing rooms put those who identify as anything other than cisgender at risk for their emotional and physical safety.
After their tweets caught the attention of several other Topshop customers, others rallied in support of Alabanza and offered their own similar experiences. In another tweet, one user pointed out that they'd received a congruent response, suggesting the retailer would be best to train their associates on how to work with transgender customers. Both users noted that they'd informed Topshop of their shopping experiences as far back as July, but it seems as though Alabanza's shopping trip was the final straw.
Instead of announcing the change to their brick-and-mortar policies via social media, press releases, or otherwise, Topshop simply rolled out the updates without notice. Upon reaching out to the UK retailer, Topshop provided Refinery29 with the following statement: "To clarify our policy on fitting rooms: All Topshop and Topman customers are free to use any of the fitting rooms located within our stores. This applies to our US-owned stores as well."
While Topshop took the right steps to resolve the issues raised by their customers, including Alabaza's claims, it's important that store policies that come from the top of the assembly line make it all the way to the bottom: In a 2015 study on transgender mental health by Milbank Quarterly, it was concluded that out of 452 transgender individuals surveyed in Massachusetts, over 65% of them reported to having been on the receiving end of discrimination when it comes to accommodation in public spaces. It's no secret the fashion industry at large is hard at work on its messaging that clothing is post-gender, but the shopping experience at the retail level is still undergoing construction.