From a Macy’s Dressing Room to the ‘Theater of the Absurd’

… or so say the folks over at Liberty Counsel:

Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: “Macy’s policy which allows men to use the women’s dressing room is fraught with problems. This policy will cause significant problems and will alienate the majority of Macy’s customers. Macy’s has essentially opened women’s dressing rooms to every man. The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd.”

 

 

Some background on Staver’s statement: A Macy’s employee in San Antonio, Texas was fired after she refused to abide by the store’s LGBT policy that allows transgendered people to use both male and female dressing rooms.  Natalie Johnson, the employee in question, saw someone whom she perceived to be a “cross-dressing young man” exit the women’s dressing room.  She told him that he could not reenter, saying that only women could use the women’s dressing room.  When informed that Macy’s is LGBT-friendly, Ms. Johnson responded 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.”

“Compromise with homosexuality”?  What?!

Still, and it pains me to admit this, Ms. Johnson might have a point.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination of employees on the basis of religion.  In addition to prohibiting the hiring and firing of employees based on religion, Title VII requires that employers “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s “sincerely held religious beliefs,” so long as doing so would not cause the employer “undue hardship.”

No lawsuit has been filed in this case, so the facts are a little sparse, which means that it’s hard to tell what, if anything, Macy’s might have been able to do to accommodate Ms. Johnson, or whether doing so would have resulted in undue hardship to the store.  Perhaps Macy’s could have moved Ms. Johnson to another area of the store (one that did not require her to manage dressing rooms), or could have moved her to a desk job off of the sales floor.

This is a complicated and often emotional area of the law.  I suspect that the law was designed to require employers to accommodate yarmulke-wearing, prayer breaks, etc.  And that sounds totally reasonable to me.  But when I first learned of this story, I was reminded of pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and of clerks who refuse to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

With this case as no exception, I think that firing employees who outright refuse to do their jobs should be an acceptable practice.  But where is the line between refusal to do one’s job and merely requesting a religious accommodation?

Is the threat of religious discrimination in the workplace substantial enough that this element of Title VII makes sense?

About katherine

Born in Texas, Katherine is now a lawyer in the northwestern United States.

  • Gabriel

    I think that this would not be the sole reason that she was fired or there was more to the incident than we are being made aware of. In all probablity she had been a problem employee and her supervisors had been looking for a way to fire her that would allow them to avoid paying her unemployment insurance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23430830 Matthew Shepherd

    I’ve got no idea myself, but really, personally, religious persons that feel discriminated against because we’re moving forward and accepting gays, lesbians, bi and transgendered, and all those in the gamut, should grow the fuck up. People are different and life isn’t simple. Fucking deal and be adult about it.

  • PJB863

    If she was unwilling to apply her employer’s policies and procedures while doing her job, she was not performing her job satisfactorily, regardless of her religious beliefs.  Macy’s might have moved her to another position, if one was available that she was capable of performing, but is that really a “reasonable accommodation?”  Or is it giving license to refuse to perform any number of tasks or engage in objectionable behavior on the basis of religious belief?

  • Gus Snarp

    It’s not like each dressing room doesn’t have it’s own doors. Are they going to go after stores that just have dressing rooms with not men’s/women’s designation? It’s not as if it says “Women” on the door, it just happens to be in the women’s clothing department, so women use it. And anyone else who happens to be trying on women’s clothes.

  • http://twitter.com/postshaggy Life Post-Shaggy

    I would think that the trans person being refused reentry into the changeroom that the company policy allows them to enter filing formal complaints/lawsuits would be considered “undue hardship” for the company.

    She can believe whatever she wants, but that doesn’t give her the freedom to decide who others are or have the freedom to do. It’s not her company.

  • Gus Snarp

    The legal question is what qualifies as reasonable accommodation. In this case, she’s not actually being asked to do anything, only to not do anything. There’s nothing in any religious doctrine that forces you to prevent other people from entering a private, closed room with no other person in it simply because it happens to be in the women’s clothing department. I challenge anyone to find any verse in the Bible or any other major holy book that even suggests that a man shouldn’t enter a closed room because the room next door might contain a woman in her underwear. Someone entering the dressing room simply has nothing to do with this woman’s religious belief or practice, she’s just butting her nose in where it doesn’t belong, which leads me naturally to a famous saying of one Supreme Court Justice: “My right to swing my arm ends where the other fellow’s nose begins”. I think it applies well here:  you’re right to practice your religion ends when you begin compelling other people in violation of their civil rights. Which of course is what the entire religious right is worried about: if gay people have rights, then they trump religious rights to discriminate.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

    Did she tell her supervisor beforehand that she did not wish to be placed in a situation where she would have to play nice with LGBT people because of her religious beliefs? If she didn’t, then to my understanding of the law, she is the one refusing to do her job rather than the employer discriminating against her religion. For example, you can’t apply for a job to work on Sundays and then call in Christian. You have to make these things clear up front.

  • Justin Miyundees

    Is there nothing a zealous prick can’t screw up? 

  • Wendel

    I disagree, there’s nothing to reasonably accomodate. There’s nothing she is required to do; there isn’t a perscription to fill, a ham hock that needed taste testing or a sabbath you can’t work on.

    All she has to do is keep her mouth shut while customers passively use the changing room without any interferance or input from her and she couldn’t even do that.

    Next you’re going to have religious nutters refuse to work in stores that sell music, dance videos, alcohol, r rated movies, food that’s not kosher or halal.

    • Gus Snarp

      I can see it now: I demand that you pay me for forty hours a week to tend bar while I stay at home and never actually tend bar because it’s against my religion to serve alcohol!

  • TychaBrahe

    Suppose she was a member of that church that recently decided to ban interracial marriage.  Would she be allowed to refuse service to mixed-race couples as a religious accommodation?  Suppose she converted to Islam and decided she could no longer serve male customers at all?  Should that be accommodated?  Suppose she were Muslim and refused to assist someone with a service dog.  The examples are endless.  The answer is easy.  If your religious beliefs interfere with your company’s ability to conduct business, you should work elsewhere.   Asking for Yom Kippur off or to be able to wear a cross on a chain under your uniform is entirely different.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit that I don’t know what the actual legal reality is, but I do know what ought to be the rule:

    If it’s a firing offense for an atheist, it’s a firing offense for a Christian. If it gets you suspended as a Jew, it should get you suspended as a Hindu.

    I’m all for the law protecting people’s rights to individual expression so long as they do not conflict with the core functions of their job, but it should be equal for everyone. If a Christian pharmacist is allowed to tell a rape victim they won’t fill her Plan B perscription, then an atheist pharmacist should be legally permitted to deny Christian women antibiotics because they are really that much of an asshole. Justifying something because of supernatural beliefs is no more valid than justifying it by saying “because I say so”, and should not be treated as such.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

      I have to wonder if the politicians who support a pharmacist’s right to refuse  to dispense Plan B would be equally supportive of a pharmacist refusing to dispense insulin* because of his/her deeply held religious belief that it’s wrong to consume animal products. 

      *I know that insulin in the US isn’t animal-sourced anymore.  If it helps the scenario, many pills contain gelatin that is derived from animal parts.

  • Hermann o

    I simply don´t see the problem – a man entered the woman´s dressing room. Well, as a man I wouldn´t want any woman to come into my dressing room – exept my wife. And really I don´t give a shit if she were lesbian, hetero, trans – whatever – I can´t tell by looking!

    So – women in theirs, men in theirs!

    shalom
    Hermann

    • Gus Snarp

      You get that this is not “the woman’s dressing room” as in a dressing room occupied by a woman, it’s “a women’s dressing room”, as in a dressing room in the women’s department usually used by women. He entered an empty, private room near other private rooms that may have contained women.

      • Wendel

        Exactly, it is like the bathroom on Ally Mcbeal. The restroom was available for everyone, male and female. But that didn’t mean someone would sit down on your lap while you were on the toilet. There are individual stalls for all.

    • Ringo

      Did you miss the part where the customer in question was not a man or are you deliberately being a jerk and denying the transwoman her identity?
      Either way, I’ll explain it like I do when I talk to pre-school aged children: Transpeople have bodies that are male or female but our brains are the opposite, and the only way doctors have found to make us happy is to change our bodies to match our brains.
      The kids get it just fine, I hope you can make an effort to understand.

      • Hermann o

        So transgender is just a kind of surgical crossdressing for people unwilling to face biological reality.

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          Fuck you.

          • Hermann o

            No thanks, I´m not into men!

            • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

              Tell me when you wake up in the morning hating yourself when you look in the mirror.

              Tell me when you cry yourself to sleep some nights because you feel everything is wrong with you.

              Tell me when you feel like everyone is looking at you and seeing a lie.

              Tell me when you’re terrified of having friends and family over because they might see some “wrong” clothes in your closet.

              Tell me when preparing for a visit includes hiding who you are.

              So fuck you if you’re going to pretend that I can’t face “biological reality” (whatever the hell that is.)

              • Hermann o

                And you really think disguising as a woman is the solution?

                So don´t tell me not to “pretend”!

                • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

                  Fuck no, “disguising” myself as a woman is hardly a solution. It’s a method of outwardly showing that I don’t accept my body as it stands. Fuck, half the time I’m at home wearing t-shirt and jeans, that’s hardly “disguised” as a woman.

                  And fuck you for thinking it’s a disguise. The only disguise I wear is the one I’m in now. If it were up to me and I wasn’t living life in a society where people would hurt, abuse, malign, or possibly kill me for doing it – I would be happy to wear a woman’s suit.

                  If anything, I’m disguised as a man because people like you get offended that someone else can possibly be frustrated with the binary gender ideals of society get weirded out if not downright violent when they see a female-identified, male-bodied individual in a dress.

                • Anonymous

                  Really, don’t bother with the asshole. He’s a bigot troll, on the same level of those who snidely tell gay people they already have the right to marry, because they can marry a person of the opposite sex.

                  A person who is not interested in hearing actual information from actual people on a subject he is obviously entirely ignorant about is not worth the wasted breath. He’s shown himself to be an asshole, and here this will not be lost on anyone.

                  Cheers, and here’s hoping you can live openly/transition someday :-)

                • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

                  Thanks. I appreciate the kindness. Sometimes this gets through to people… but I guess not all the time.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  *hugs*

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  *hugs*

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  *hugs*

                • SphericalBunny

                  Sweetie, you have had it pointed out to you that that your views are stupid; changing rooms being private cubicles and ‘biological reality’ not being what you thought you could dictate it as.

                  We get you’re a nasty little bigot, there’s no need to compound your idiocy with the extra vileness of having a go at someone who is going thru something you have no comprehension of, and are determined to stay willfully ignorant about.

                  TL;DR? Fuck off cupcake.

                • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

                  Oi, Hermann. Shut up and read a book, k?

                • martyhittle

                  Herman, really, I think you probablly are into men…. The few things you’ve said here really points in that direction. Beleive me, I’ve seen your type sooo often. You try to hide it, but it’s very easy to spot and detect…. You’re not into transexual women you’re into men…. and not doing a good job of hiding it!

            • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

              Yeah, fuck you.

              • Hermann o

                No, Thank you!

        • Starfish

          So you ARE just an asshole. Well, that’s good to know. I prefer it when your sort clearly identify themselves.

        • SphericalBunny
        • Ringo

          Do you wear glasses? Is anyone who wears glasses disguising themselves as a sighted person who is unwilling to face biological reality?

          • marty

            Ringo, that’s a very good observation and anology.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Wow. You’re a dick.

          I wonder… what are you so afraid of? What are you hiding, that makes you so hateful towards transgendered people? Are you, perhaps, closeted, yourself…?

          • Hermann o

            I was wondering when this old cliché would come up!

        • Martyhittle

          Herman, what the hell are you talking about??

    • Anonymous

      So just say “Hey. This is occupied!”. No need to flip out over it or act like a prude

      This is silly. I was just shopping for jeans and some other stuff. Some of the changing stalls had simple curtains. They didn’t reach to the bottom, so you easily saw if they were occupied when you walked towards them. Another store had doors instead. They didn’t go all the way down either, but I had to look a bit to see if one was occupied, but again it could be done. If it’s really hard to tell make them lockable from the inside, but the concept of completely separate women’s and men’s stalls is completely absurd.

    • pleasebereasonable

      But the issue wasn’t realy about the gender,  it was about the percieved homosexuality.  If it was about the gender, she could have been totally wrong too.  Years back I saw what I was convinced was a totally butch dude all dolled up in a cocktail dress and heals.  Deep voice and absolutely HUGE muscles all over.  Some time later I saw the movie Supersize She and realized that the dude was actually a female body builder.  Too bad that wasn’t the case in this situation….wouldn’t have mattered, the lady would likely called her a lesbian.

    • pleasebereasonable

      But the issue wasn’t realy about the gender,  it was about the percieved homosexuality.  If it was about the gender, she could have been totally wrong too.  Years back I saw what I was convinced was a totally butch dude all dolled up in a cocktail dress and heals.  Deep voice and absolutely HUGE muscles all over.  Some time later I saw the movie Supersize She and realized that the dude was actually a female body builder.  Too bad that wasn’t the case in this situation….wouldn’t have mattered, the lady would likely called her a lesbian.

    • pleasebereasonable

      But the issue wasn’t realy about the gender,  it was about the percieved homosexuality.  If it was about the gender, she could have been totally wrong too.  Years back I saw what I was convinced was a totally butch dude all dolled up in a cocktail dress and heals.  Deep voice and absolutely HUGE muscles all over.  Some time later I saw the movie Supersize She and realized that the dude was actually a female body builder.  Too bad that wasn’t the case in this situation….wouldn’t have mattered, the lady would likely called her a lesbian.

  • Trace

    I think dressing rooms should be coed, like some French rest area bathrooms. Oh, and Ms. Johnson was not right (in my opinion)

    • Anonymous

      Yeah. Just make sure you can either see if they are occupied from the outside or make the doors lockable. There is no need for separate changing areas

    • Anonymous

      In Spain that certainly is the case. In fact, I’d be willing to bet Spaniards would be utterly confused by the notion that men and women aren’t allowed to share the same hallway with adjoining rooms.

  • Tinker

    Maybe it’s against my religious beliefs to work with someone that won’t show their face in public. Maybe I can’t work with someone that believes I am going to hell because I don’t believe as they do. Maybe my religion tells me that working with someone that doesn’t eat meat will cause me a severe hardship. Where does this end? I can make up some Dogma about anything. It is absolutely ridiculous to accommodate everyone. 

    Of course if employers could do like the company I work for you don’t have to worry. My company has a very low percentage of Christians because we are involved in the internet where the .xxx domain just went live. One of the qualifying questions to get my job was; “Do you have a problem with pornography?” We are not exposed to it on a routine basis but any ‘good’ Christian would not work here. And that is just fine with me. This is the first job that I have had where the Christians are quiet in the lunchroom while the rest of us talk freely.

  • Anonymous

    Letting men into the women’s changing area seems more like part of a heterosexual agenda to me.

    • Anonymous

      Why should it be an issue other than many Americans being uptight and prude? If people really undress they can go into the stall/cabin itself. They are alone in there. Outside they wear clothes, so no one sees anything.

      As a man, I don’t want people to see my undressing either. No matter the gender. I get that part. But I’m alone in a stall. No one sees me there

      • AB

        I always thought it was more a safety thing, rather than a prude thing.  

        • Semipermeable

          But the ‘safety’ claim makes no sense. A motivated attacker of either gender could sneak into an unwatched changing room, and also women could still attack/rape women and men attack/rape men in either room. I don’t see how separate gender bath/changing rooms really help keep anyone safe.

          • Anonymous

            And department store change rooms aren’t really secluded. The cabins are usually in a relatively open room where someone can walk in at any time. Some of them aren’t even fully enclosed but allow you to see people’s feet from the outside.

            If someone is determined to assault someone there are many better places to do it

  • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

    Is it one shared room or separate cubicles? If it is separate cubicles, I see no reason to have Men and Women. If it is one shared room for all women (and presumably also one for all men), then it IS a tricky point, but for the customers, not the employee who has company guidance to follow. I can fully understand that some women would not be happy sharing a room with a pre-op male-to-female

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been to Macy’s and their dressing rooms, and unless the one in San Antonio is the trashiest one ever, it’s separate cubicles. In my memory Macy’s dressing rooms were pretty roomy too, and certainly had a locking mechanism on the door. In fact, I’ve never been to any store EVER that had one room for each gender. Even the poorest clothing store might have a tiny cubicle limited only by curtains, but not a shared room.

      Mind you this is sort of besides the point because the customer was a transgendered woman, so female areas would be appropriate, even though I think separate areas are ridiculous considering cubicles are private.

      • San Antonion

        This particular Macy’s is at the Rivercenter Mall, in the heart of San Antonio’s tourism.  Everything in that area (except the homeless outside) is really nice.

      • Martyhittle

        Hi Claudia, yes, most dressing rooms at Macys are pretty roomy, but,
        not only that, but ALL Macys dressing rooms are of the cubicle type with locking doors. I’m not speculating, I know this for a fact. The person above that says she’s been into a Macys with only a curtain for her privacy is lying.

    • Wendel

      It’s Macy’s, not a fashion show, outdoor bazaar, or a prison. :-) They don’t have gang style dressing areas.

      • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

        Macy’s is in a foreign country, how would I know ;-)

        • Wendel

          I thought that could be the case. I was going to specify that it is a fairly high end store, but that could cause even more confusion, because I can imagine some “high end” stores would create buzz by having people dress in transparent cubicles and have a live camera feed of people trying on clothing on televisons throughout the store.

          That’s a kind of long winded explanation for something I didn’t do in the first place :)

    • Gus Snarp

      I have never in my life seen a department store with dressing rooms that were not separate cubicles.

      • Travshad

        Try going to a Loehmann’s store, they are kind of famous for their communal dressing room.  But as far as I know they are also relatively unique in having the communal dressing room.  Wendel,  Loehmann’s is not an outdoor bazaar or a prison, but they are a famous 90+ year old department store chain.

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          I’ve been to some malls with communal bathrooms. I think they’re called “Family” restrooms.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=591058715 Thomas Farrell

      The issue is not the arrangement of the changing rooms. That’s essentially irrelevant. Macys owns the changing rooms and can set whatever policy they want for how they’re used. If customers don’t like Macys’s policy, they can choose not to shop there. Macys undoubtedly chose the policy that they believe is best for their business.

      The issue is that Macys is saying “our policy is that customers may use the changing rooms regardless of their gender”, their employee is saying “my religion requires me to actively prevent customers from doing that,” and Macys is saying “you may not prevent them from doing that while you represent Macys”, and she is claiming this is discriminatory against her. In other words, she expects to be able to, on her work time, perform actions that Macys believes are detrimental to her business, and get paid for doing so.

      If this was a case of her saying “I’m not comfortable dealing with these particular customers for religious reasons,” she might possibly have a decent argument that they could have simply assigned her to other duties. But she’s claiming that they’re discriminating against her by not allowing her to offend their customers in their name, and that’s ridiculous.

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        Well stated.

  • Cd1809

    I’m taking the Spock approach… The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I think I understand where you’re going with this, the “many” being the customers and the “few or one” being the employee, but you have to be careful with this argument:

      I’ve seen it argued that the “many” are the millions of Christians who think they “need” to be hateful, interfering bigots, and the “few” are LGBT people, or anyone else in the minority, including atheists.

      The majority does not rule. The Constitution rules. 

  • Anonymous

    Wait a minute.  The question isn’t about accommodating her religion.  It’s about what actions she is allowed to take under color of her employer’s authority.   If she were required to, say, assist men in putting on clothing when her religion forbids her to touch a man, that would be one thing.  But the process of letting a person into a dressing room is quite another.

  • http://www.robinlionheart.com/ Robin Lionheart

    Seems to me she should lose her job as a sales representative by the Amish Bus Driver Rule.

  • Cut Throat Jane

    I don’t understand a few things with this story. Why are separate fitting rooms even necessary? Gap Inc. (at least the stores I worked at in Mo.) had unisex fitting rooms. Our Old Navy had about 20 fitting rooms but they were never assigned specific genders, Gap and Banana(where I worked) were the same but had fewer rooms. Out of my 3 1/2 years of employment, it was NEVER an issue but I guess Macy’s is a pretty big place…

    What would she have done if they didn’t have separate male/female rooms? Decline service to any LGBT person?

    How exactly did she know it was a Transgender (or cross dressing young man, whatever that means) person? It’s awfully rude to be walking around telling people they look too much like the opposite sex to be able to use a gender designated area? What if she was wrong, does her religion allow her to publicly humiliate people for looking too manly or effeminate?

  • http://heart-nouveau.blogspot.com/ heartnouveau

    Good article, Katherine, and good question.  For what it’s worth, I think dressing rooms should probably be neutral across the board, with more private stalls, however the next logical question would be restrooms, and I think the answer isn’t as cut and dry there for a number of reasons.  (my town has a large population of Somali refugees, for instance, who are primarily Muslim, and I imagine a unisex restroom with stalls would be prohibited for them)  So how does a melting pot like the US be more accepting to one group (trans/neutral) without also alienating others (religious)?  Maybe the solution is more “family” neutral private restrooms in addition to men’s and women’s, and maybe that could be applied to the dressing room situation as well.

    But in this case, I think this woman needs to wake up and realize she’s not practicing her religion in a vaccuum, and this is not her company, nor her country, nor her world.  I think it’s clear who is discriminating here, and it’s not Macy’s.  P.S. Ms. Johnson, hating has never been an effective form of evangelizing.  The verse is “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Good grief.

  • Silo Mowbray

    Perhaps I am being a bit of a reactionary here, but IMO there should be NO accommodation for religious beliefs, sincere or otherwise. Such beliefs aren’t founded on rational assumptions, and those same beliefs usually divide humanity on absurd grounds. Also, accommodating religious beliefs that allow someone to treat others as second-class human beings is tantamount to endorsing that sort of vile behavior.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    These “religious conscience” laws and arguments are bullshit.  What if  the customer was instead a transgender or transexual patient bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound, and the employee was a paramedic or an emergency room doctor or nurse? Should she be able to refuse to do her job, let the patient die, and not get fired? If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.

    When you apply for a job, you will be informed of all the things you’re expected to do, and the many kinds of people you’re expected to serve. If anything there is against your “religious conscience,” then don’t take the job. If you agree to take the job, you agree to do the job in full, not cherry pick your duties one situation at a time.

    • Anonymous

      I also don’t see how you can violate your conscience by being passive in this case. She wasn’t required to actively do anything

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Yes, exactly. Johnson is essentially saying that being civil and courteous to LGBT people violates her religious convictions, and that she was being “forced” to not interfere with the store policy. She’s practicing a cult of active hate, not “Love thy neighbor as thyself.

        • pleasebereasonable

          Totally agree, unfortunately these people believe being a hateful bigot really is “loving thy neighbor”.

    • Starfish

      Actually, it HAS already happened.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyra_Hunter

      Trans people face huge amounts of discrimination for a condition they are born with. It’s inhumane and, in this case, profoundly unChristian to treat trans people as anything other than their declared gender. This woman should lose her job. Unfortunately, that’s likely only going to cement her bias and leave her feeling like the victim. She’s not. No one is going to leave her dying on the sidewalk because they find out she’s a Christian. If she wants the right to discriminate against GLBT people, she needs to find work with a fundy organization that encourages that sort of thing.

  • TheG

    Wait, the issue is it against her belief to approve of homosexuality.

    Where did she make the leap from cross-dressing to gay?  My few cross-dressing friends all remind me (as does Eddie Izzard…) that cross-dressing does not necessarily, or even usually, equal gay!

    With all the LGBT support our community usually provides, how has nobody picked this up?

    • pleasebereasonable

      If the customer was, as you describe a “cross dresser” it is more likely than not the person was straight.  Not to nit pick, but “cross dresser” generally refers to men that get off on wearing women’s clothes.

    • pleasebereasonable

      If the customer was, as you describe a “cross dresser” it is more likely than not the person was straight.  Not to nit pick, but “cross dresser” generally refers to men that get off on wearing women’s clothes.

  • Selkie

    Perhaps this was already pointed out … She wasn’t fired for her religious beliefs, but for not following company policy. She is making the same argument that pharmisists make that believe dispensing birth contol is against thier religion. The answer is the same, if you feel that strongly about a company policy, find another job. Someone should mention to there that there are some very masculine looking women out there, because of hormone issues, or just by the way they present themselves.  She gets to make a judgemnt call on everyone who enters the dressing room ? “I’m sorry .. you don’t look femme enough — you can’t use this dressing room”

    And then there are the intersexed, people born with ambigous genitals .. Where is she going to send them ? But the real bottom line is that Macy’s gets to set the policy for dressing rooms .. not her nor does her religion.  

  • Supporter

    OK folks, I am in full support of the ex-employee; if Macy’s want the LGBT customers, they should accmodate with additional dressing room options.  I will not be shopping at Macys if I have to share a womens dressing room with a man who wants to be a woman. 

    • Anonymous

      Please name the store that has a group dressing room. No one is asking you to share a dressing room. There are individual stalls/cubicles for everyone and it’s not at all uncommon for men and women to use them next to each other. There may be some separation if a large store has distinct men and women’s departments, but smaller stores may just have one room with one row of dressing stalls

      • Travshad

        Loehmann’s was always famous for their communal dressing rooms.

    • Gus Snarp

      Oh for the love of noodles, at least read the comments before you weigh in. Maybe you’re not from the United States and legitimately don’t know this, but if you are from the United States, have you never shopped at a department store before? I have shopped at a large variety of stores, in a number of states, and accompanied women into the women’s clothing department while they tried on clothes. I have seen a broad enough sample to be willing to say that there is not a single major department store in the United States that doesn’t give you a private dressing room. No on else is in the room with anyone who is trying on clothes unless they bring a friend in with them. The first comment not understanding this from someone from outside the U.S. was excusable, at this point it’s just stupid and/or lazy.

      • Anonymous

        It’s not any different outside the US either

    • Anonymous

      It’s not “a man who wants to be a woman”, it’s a woman who had the misfortune to be born into the wrong body. The fact you do not understand what a transgendered person is or are frontally unwilling to accept the science that establishes it as an actual condition lends no legitimacy to your argument. All it does is make you less enlightened on the issue than Iran.

    • Semipermeable

      So, you want the store to build a whole new set of changing rooms just because you get the heebie-jeebies at the idea that women in the locked, closed stall next to you or two stalls away from you may have been born with a penis? 
      A bit infantile don’t you think?

      Also,
      You could be sharing any dressing room with a trans person and not know it, many of them have legally changed their gender. If you want to avoid that you might as well get used to doing all your shopping online. 

    • Supporter of Love

      Do you think they should do cisgender homosexual screening, as well?  Because the lesbians are going into those women’s fitting areas, as well.

      So ridiculous.  The world is not black and white.  There is not just male or female.  There is not just straight or gay.

    • Supporter of Love

      Do you think they should do cisgender homosexual screening, as well?  Because the lesbians are going into those women’s fitting areas, as well.

      So ridiculous.  The world is not black and white.  There is not just male or female.  There is not just straight or gay.

    • Supporter of Love

      Do you think they should do cisgender homosexual screening, as well?  Because the lesbians are going into those women’s fitting areas, as well.

      So ridiculous.  The world is not black and white.  There is not just male or female.  There is not just straight or gay.

    • Sarah0jean

      I agree.  Unless Macy’s changes their policy, I have spent my last dollar there.

      Not all changing areas have doors instead of curtains, and on at least one occasion I have observed a man trying to get a peep show.  If you don’t think that happens, you’re naive.

      I don’t care what is going on in your head.  Men need to stay out of women’s changing areas.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Pffft, liar. You just WISH some guy was “trying to get a peep show”.

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        So you don’t mind women trying to get a peep show?

      • Martyhittle

        1) You are a liar. ALL Macys have doors, not curtain. No exceptions, ALL MACYS dressing rooms.

        2) In all likelyhood, you only imagined a man was trying to get
        a “peep show.” Did you make a police report? Call security? No, dear,
        I didn’t think so.

        3) No has said anything about a men in changing room areas. The
        discussion is about transexual women using the women’s dressing room.

        The appropriate place for women and transexual women to change is the women’s dressing room, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Martyhittle

      1) I really doubt if Macy’s or anyone else has asked you to, ” … share a womens dressing room with a man who wants to be a woman. ”

      2) Men, and transexual men use men’s dressing rooms. Women and
      transexual women use women’s dressing rooms. Where else would you
      expect a transexual woman or woman to change in? By the way, this
      is most businesses policy now. Welcome to the world!

      3) ” I will not be shopping at Macys,” I really hope you don’t. The reason: the
      more people like you that drops out of society the better place the world
      becomes.

  • Silo Mowbray

    So now I’m just waiting for some dolt to shriek, “This is the United States, and it was founded as a Christian nation!” Makes me want to punch a wall, some of these people are so mindless.

    Think I’ll have a sugar molasses cookie instead.

  • plum grenville

    Hemant, you’re way off base on this.

    1) Transexuality has NOTHING to do with homosexuality. The sales clerk’s stated objection is to homosexuality. The clerk conflates the two out of ignorance. She should be asked to point to a verse in the bible that even mentions transexuality. 

    2) She wasn’t being asked to DO or even “endorse” anything. She gratuitously confronted this customer and announced that the customer could not use the women’s changing rooms. From the story, it’s not clear that the clerk was actually in charge of admitting people to the dressing rooms. If she was, presumably she wouldn’t have allowed the customer to go in the first time. (Macy’s may in fact not have a gatekeeper for their dressing rooms. Many stores don’t.)  

    3) The accommation the clerk wanted went far beyond not having to be personally involved in a transgendered person using the “wrong” dressing room. She wanted the right to prohibit the customer from using the women’s dressing room at all. In essence, she wanted her religious beliefs accommodated by Macy’s changing their policy.

    4) As noted by someone above, this situation is not at all like allowing an employee to wear a yarmulka or a cross. Here the clerk is asking to be allowed to discriminate and make her employer a party to to it. not just behind the scenes, but to their face. Equality rights trump religious freedom because equality is more fundamental. (Note tht in the U.S., equality is  constituional right; reasonable accommodation is only a statutory right.)  Freedom of religion has never been understood as entitling people to act as they please, in defiance of other people’s rights. Would this clerk really be happy with a principle that would allow her to be denied use of a dressing room, in violation of store policy, because a Muslim employee believed that the Koran’s requirement of modesty meant that women should only undress within the home?

    • pleasebereasonable

      Plum, you are totally
      correct here.  Transexuality and homosexuality
      are 2 completely different issues.  The
      fact of the matter is that this woman has no idea whether the customer was
      heterosexual or homosexual unless she had witnessed a sex act and was able to
      view the genital of the participants, or unless the customer stated as
      much.  Neither of these were reported, so
      I feel it is safe to assume that neither occurred.  She simply concluded without basis that the
      customer was gay.   Although I am far
      from a biblical scholar, I know of no passage in the bible that instructs
      condemnation of transexualism (is that even a word?).  She doesn’t like trans people, clearly felt
      it was her duty to show the customer the level of her distain, then cried while
      clutching her bible claiming religious persecution even though her religion has
      no text regarding the issue.  If you are
      going to claim Title VII, you better have something legitimate to back it up;
      otherwise people could make any number of ridiculous claims about any number of
      ridiculous things and demand protection under Title VII.  Your modesty analogy is brilliant and spot
      on.

    • pleasebereasonable

      Plum, you are totally
      correct here.  Transexuality and homosexuality
      are 2 completely different issues.  The
      fact of the matter is that this woman has no idea whether the customer was
      heterosexual or homosexual unless she had witnessed a sex act and was able to
      view the genital of the participants, or unless the customer stated as
      much.  Neither of these were reported, so
      I feel it is safe to assume that neither occurred.  She simply concluded without basis that the
      customer was gay.   Although I am far
      from a biblical scholar, I know of no passage in the bible that instructs
      condemnation of transexualism (is that even a word?).  She doesn’t like trans people, clearly felt
      it was her duty to show the customer the level of her distain, then cried while
      clutching her bible claiming religious persecution even though her religion has
      no text regarding the issue.  If you are
      going to claim Title VII, you better have something legitimate to back it up;
      otherwise people could make any number of ridiculous claims about any number of
      ridiculous things and demand protection under Title VII.  Your modesty analogy is brilliant and spot
      on.

  • Nicole

    I don’t think any store has the open dressing rooms of the past. The all have individual stalls to change in. I certainly have never been in one.

    Just another thought .. Every Old Navy I have ever been in has a  dressing room that is open to everyone regardless of gender presentation,  with individual cubicles to change in. Would the people who have a problem with Macy’s policy not shop in Old Navy as well ?

  • http://www.loudlisting.com house for rent

    I always thought it was more a safety thing, rather than a prude thing.
    Classifieds

  • Ringo

    I’d like to call attention to the fact that in the link provided as background the shopper denied entry to the dressing room was described as a transgender woman, yet in the same paragraph this post describes the customer using the pronoun he. I would appreciate it if this post would be amended using the proper pronoun, unless there is some other evidence showing that the customer in question prefers masculine pronouns, or if there are other reasons I’d like to know what they are.

    I don’t want to be a dick over what was most likely an oversight, but it’s a little disappointing.

    • Gus Snarp

      Let me just say that, even though I’m not the author of the original post you’re referring too, I used “he” as well, and I’m sorry. I can’t edit my comments to change it, and I’m taking this as a learning opportunity. I think a lot of folks who are not transgender and don’t have a lot of exposure to it are still learning, thanks for educating me.

    • Gus Snarp

      Let me just say that, even though I’m not the author of the original post you’re referring too, I used “he” as well, and I’m sorry. I can’t edit my comments to change it, and I’m taking this as a learning opportunity. I think a lot of folks who are not transgender and don’t have a lot of exposure to it are still learning, thanks for educating me.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Her “religious accommodation” should NOT come at the cost of other people’s dignity and basic human rights.

    If she has a problem with LGBT folks — and, in this case, she specifically DOES have a problem with the T portion of our alphabet soup — she needs to request that she be assigned to a task where she will not have to deal with it. If she can’t deal with it, tough shit, go find another job where your bigotry is accepted.

  • Nude0007

    As I see it, she isn’t being asked to do something against her religion, just to let others have the  right to do what THEY please.  She is trying to make others live by her religious standards, not the other way around.  She should be made to keep quiet or quit, the stores policy is NOT in question, just her obeying it.  No one is forcing her to go in there and change clothes, in which she would have a case.

  • Michael Miller

    So, why even have separate gender dressing rooms or even restrooms for that matter?  I say stop putting men and women signs up on these rooms and let people use which ever one they feel like.  Where is the problem in that?


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