There’s always room for change when it comes to equality.
But UK retail giant Topshop’s decision to allow people of all genders to use any dressing room has sparked fierce debate.
The change was brought to light by London-based performance artist and writer Travis Alabanza (pictured), who tweeted Topshop to complain after being denied access to a female changing room at its Manchester store.
Travis was shopping with friends when they decided to try on dresses in the female changing rooms. But staff told them to use the male changing rooms downstairs instead.
“She wasn’t rude, but she wasn’t sympathetic either,” Travis told Buzzfeed.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to be safe down there. What do you want me to do?’ and they just kind of shrugged.
“I did think I could buy the dresses and take them home to try on, but I felt like, why am I doing this? My day instantly became politicised when all I wanted was a chill day shopping.
“It’s just been a whole stretched-out thing when all I wanted was to go into Topshop and go out.
“I normally online shop for this reason.”
Despite the attendant telling them to use the other changing rooms, the firm says the policy was already in place at the time and its changing rooms are already gender-neutral space.
A spokesperson for Topshop added: “All Topshop and Topman customers are free to use any of the fitting rooms located within our stores.”
However, Travis said it goes beyond responding that they have all-gender changing rooms.
“They clearly need to train the staff about what it means to serve every kind of customer, how to advocate for us and respond against people who are phobic.
“Naturally I was already getting looks and stares as I always do, and that is the kind of thing you’re used to when you’re trans, but I think when I was stopped at the changing room, I noticed the stares even more.
“I was quite upset – it ruined my day.”
Those sentiments were confirmed in an online poll by the Daily Mail in which 91% of respondents said they would not be happy to use a gender neutral changing room at Topshop.