Trans woman refused at bridal shop in Saskatoon

I’m several days behind on most of my news and blog feeds at the moment, but this post at TransGriot caught my eye.

Rohit Singh, a young trans woman, was browsing wedding dresses at a bridal shop in Saskatoon for her upcoming nuptials. When she asked to try one on, she was refused, being told, “I’m sorry, we don’t allow men to wear dresses here.”

There are a few problems to unpack here, the most obvious being the blatant bigotry involved.

When contacted Thursday by CBC News, the bridal shop owner, Jenny Correia, said she stands by her decision.

“To me it doesn’t matter,” Correia said. “He looked like a man. There was quite a few brides in the store. If you see a man trying on dresses, you’re going to feel uncomfortable.”

One of the other problems is the protests in the comments at the original CBC source. I know, I keep saying, over and over, “don’t read the bottom half of the internet”. But that’s where I get a sense for the ways in which people are misreading a situation repeatedly, and where I start to develop hypotheses about why those misreads might happen with such regularity.

In this case, the commenters defending Singh by saying “she doesn’t look like a man to me”, or that she’s quite (heteronormatively) attractive, are missing the point. While a few had the good sense to say “how you read that person doesn’t matter”, even some of those undercut their own sentiment by declaring that Singh read as female to them. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether she reads as female to you — if she identifies as female, and you misidentify her, you say “my mistake”, you apologize sincerely, and you try not to make said mistake again. Your opinion on how they read is a grain of sand next to the mountain that is how they self-identify.

In fact, as a general rule, if someone’s trying to engage in something that isn’t normative to what you expect people might do, you let them be as long as nobody’s being directly impacted by them doing that thing. You leave them the fuck alone, you mind your own business, and you do not attempt to police gender, because gender ain’t laws.

I had a very brief passing encounter this evening with a mother, and her young girl who upon spotting a white one-shouldered dress with some sparkly sequins on a mannequin declared “I want a dress like that”. Her mother said “I don’t know why. It’s so ugly.” It’s policing of another sort, but I could only imagine what kind of response a boy might have gotten instead. Either way, it strikes me as the same sort of curmudgeonly repressive-of-others attitude that only comes with having a sense of entitlement to force others to be like you, to like what you want, to do what you expect, to conform.

There’s almost a justification in that my encounter was with the girl’s parent, and she needs to assert certain rules to prevent the kid from accidentally killing themselves, but when you extend it to forcing them to stop liking the things they like, to stop being the things they are, to enforce arbitrary delineations of what’s appropriate and what’s not when there’s no actual justification for those delineations, no moral imperative that says that someone else might be being actively hurt by your wanting a pretty-to-you dress, that gets under my skin. And it’s the same sort of arbitrary delineation that Correia tried to pull on Singh.

Fuck people like that.

Trans woman refused at bridal shop in Saskatoon
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10 thoughts on “Trans woman refused at bridal shop in Saskatoon

  1. 1

    While I agree that using positive opinions of her looks as a defense is missing the point, I do find a small amount of comfort in that I read through seven pages of those comments and they were overwhelmingly supportive of Rohit Singh and the haters were roundly criticized. Some of them are even directly saying that her looks don’t matter in how she deserves fair treatment. That’s a breath of fresh air compared to most comment threads about trans people.

  2. 2

    I’ll gladly admit that that tab had been open in my browser for many days, and I couldn’t tell you on what page those comments that tweaked my nerves were, now that I’ve closed the tab.

  3. 4

    Is it terribly catty of me to want to go to that boutique and take several hours of the owners time picking out a dress before telling her I’ve no intention of ever buying from her store?

    Or possibly I could take a couple men in dresses and conveniently remember that she doesn’t allow men to wear dresses in her store…

  4. 8

    but when you extend it to forcing them to stop liking the things they like

    I actually felt a little guilty reading that. I say this to my daughter all the time. Sparkly dresses, plasticy costumes, blaring clashing colours.. Yeah. Children usually have zero sense of taste, which is a good thing, experimenting with all kinds of colours/ types of clothing/ items is important (also I was told, bright colours are good for children’s eyesight). So I say “That sparkly dress? It’s terrible, all that fake silver and the horrible frills.” But then she says “well I like it!” And I say “well then one day if you get married, you can buy whatever dress you like of course, but I still think its ugly.” I make it clear that when I’m expressing my opinion on something that she can have her own opinion on it, as distinct from things she isn’t allowed to have an opinion on (holding hands when crossing the street, wearing a seatbelt), but where I then have to back up my own position with facts and evidence.

    And then she does the same back for me… she thinks some things I buy are ugly and some things I eat are disgusting, and when she has reasons for it, she’ll back up her position with rational arguments. Mutual sincerity is a good thing.

    My hope is that she’ll have at least some feeling for colour and materials so when she hits her teens she can go crazy with it without looking terrible, and actually think about the actual merit of things (trousers with pockets have certain advantages).

  5. 9

    Oh and of course that behaviour was inexcusable. The only slightly understandable similar situation would be perhaps if she thought it was some man trying to play a “prank”, and waste her time (if things like that had happened in her store before). After things were explained she should have apologised profusely and of course served her customer.

  6. 10

    The shop owner thought Singh was a man and felt other people in the store were uncomfortable with Singh trying on dresses
    And what are going to do about it ? Telling her that political correctness is more important than securing her own livelihood ? Will you be compensating for her potential losses? No? I didn’t think so.

    (And why would the store owner apologise for not recognising that it was a transgender person? It’s not her fault for being confused by someone who has the outer appearance of a crocoduck.)

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