Really, Macy’s? Men in women’s fitting rooms?

Update: See Update #1 below.

For some reason Macy’s is going out of its way two weeks before Christmas to alienate an enormous bloc of potential shoppers.

Perhaps you were unaware of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s LGBT-friendly dressing room policy. At Macy’s, a man who is dressed as a woman is permitted to use the women’s fitting rooms. I’m sure Macy’s women shoppers don’t mind. Right, women?

It gets worse. Apparently, in San Antonio, Texas, a Macy’s employee was recently fired from her job for not permitting a young man in drag to enter the women’s dressing room.

A young woman was fired from the Macy’s San Antonio Rivercenter department store for refusing to violate her religious beliefs by permitting a young man dressed as a woman from entering the women’s dressing room. Natalie Johnson claims she saw the young man walk out of the women’s fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a “female.” Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl’s clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals. The group argued with expletives that Macy’s is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy’s is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.

When Johnson was confronted by her employer, she explained that she could not allow a male to change in a female’s fitting room. Johnson’s boss referred her to Macy’s LGBT policy which allows “transgender” people to change in any dressing room they want. However, Johnson pointed out that the same policy also protects against religious discrimination and, in this case, it protects her right to her beliefs that were being violated. The manager demanded that she comply with the LGBT policies or lose her job. Johnson refused to go against her sincerely held religious beliefs and was terminated from her job.

Now, I can’t imagine why Macy’s found it necessary to fire this young woman, especially at the height of the Christmas shopping season. Presumably with the boss standing right there, Johnson’s cooperation or permission wasn’t needed to allow the “female” shopper access to the women’s fitting rooms. I’m also not clear from the report why Natalie felt that allowing the cross-dresser into the women’s fitting rooms would constitute a “lie” on her part. Perhaps her job involved keeping track of the number of male and female shoppers in the fitting rooms at any given time.

What does seem to be clear is that Macy’s and its affiliate Bloomingdale’s would apparently rather cater to the antisocial demands of a tiny percentage of the population than make the vast majority of its customers comfortable. I can’t imagine that many women would appreciate bumping into a man in drag in the corridor of the women’s dressing rooms. Assuming he’s even in drag—after all, women can wear pretty much anything men can wear. What’s to stop a guy in jeans and a T-shirt from barging into the women’s dressing rooms, declaring himself a woman?

The Liberty Council, which is representing Natalie, argues, “Right now, any kind of sexual predator could put on lipstick and have full access to any of the women’s fitting rooms and the girls of all ages who may be present.” That’s a real possibility. A question: At Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s corporate headquarters, are the women’s restrooms open to male employees? If not, why not?

Want to let Macy’s know how you feel? The Liberty Council website suggests the following courses of action:

Please sign this petition to Macy’s right now:

Post on their Facebook page, asking them to please protect the privacy of their female shoppers.

Spread the word on Twitter, and include the hash tag “#macys”.

Email [email protected].

Call their corporate office 800-264-0069 or 513-398-5221.

Fax them at 513-573-2049.

Or write to Terry Lundren, President and CEO, Macy’s Inc, P.O. Box 8220, Mason, OH 45040.

Finally, we urge you to please pass this message along to educate shoppers that their privacy is jeopardized while shopping at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s department stores. 

What are your thoughts?

Hat tip:

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Update #1: Looks like Macy’s is hanging tough on their policy and is still stonewalling requests for comment. When I tweeted this article, I got an immediate reply tweet from @Macys as follows:

We do not comment on personnel matters. At Macy’s we recognize and appreciate the diversity of our customers and associates.

Which is funny, because I hadn’t mentioned “personnel matters” in my original tweet. My reply to @Macys:

Macy’s, do you comment on customer concerns regarding privacy & safety of women patrons?

I’ll let you know if I hear anything more.