I Was Horrified by a Store Clerk Misgendering a Customer | Ask the Rev. | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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I Was Horrified by a Store Clerk Misgendering a Customer

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Published May 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


ID 10816495 © NORBERT BUCHHOLZ | DREAMSTIME
  • ID 10816495 © Norbert Buchholz | Dreamstime

Dear Reverend,

I was in line at a department store dressing room, behind a person who realized they were accidentally in the ladies' line. The store employee looked surprised and said, "You want to use the men's dressing room?!" The person said yes and headed over there. Then the employee said, kind of to no one, but I was there to witness it, "But you're a woman!" I was pretty horrified on behalf of this other customer and stunned speechless. I wanted to say something to this clueless employee, but I froze! What would you do in this scenario?

Shocked Shopper (female, 34)

Dear Shocked Shopper,

I hope I would at least give the salesperson my sharpest eye daggers, but I'd be most concerned about the other customer. If I could tell they were upset by the encounter, I would try to casually offer some support. I imagine I'd say something along the lines of "That person was a real turd. Don't let 'em get you down." But it's impossible to be sure without being in the moment.

Since you feel strongly enough to ask me about this, I think you should call the store and talk to the manager. If it's a big chain, you could also send an email or letter to the corporate headquarters. Make sure to note the date and time of the incident and give a description of the salesperson. It couldn't hurt to suggest that they do some sensitivity training with their employees.

In a perfect world, we would always be ready to stand up to whatever nasty "ism" raises its ugly head, but nothing about this place is perfect. Unfortunately, this most likely won't be the last time you're confronted by behavior like this. Spend some time envisioning how you could react in similar situations, and you'll be more prepared to speak up.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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