Mens changing is upstairs, sir.

I went shopping in the city wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I was invisible to the world until I took a t-shirt dress to the gender neutral changing room where I was told, "the men's room is upstairs." *sigh*

Mens changing is upstairs, sir.

Men’s changing is upstairs sir

I went into the city wearing jeans, not a skirt and had a 90% wonderful time. No one was staring at me like I was naked. Men didn’t film me. Some people were looking at my purple beard, but generally, I walked through town unnoticed and felt calm. It was refreshing and fun. I was wearing women’s jeans in pink, but only I knew they were women’s. A fun bit of subversion.

I bought some art supplies, saw people dancing in the streets, bought new mango nail polish, enjoyed the warmth of the sun and tried on leggings in a sports store without any issue. The staff were great. They asked if I needed any help and didn’t blink when I went to the gender-neutral mixed human changing rooms with clothes from both sides of the binary. Unfortunately, the leggings didn’t quite fit, but it was nice to try.

After I went to another store to try their leggings. They were bland but they had some clothes that caught my eye. I’ve shopped there a few times without issue, even when I went to the women’s department in a skirt with a sequin skirt and top to try on. They were fine and didn’t direct me to another changing room. Until, today.

I approached the female assistant with my clothes, which included a dress, and she said: “The men’s changing is upstairs, sir.” I should have said, “I identify as non-binary, not a sir looking for the men’s changing.” Instead, I said I’ve been here before to which she replied “And they let you in?” ugh She let me in once I said yes. I know the store policy is gender-neutral. Secure lockable cubicles for any identity. I knew this because I’d seen the outrage it caused online and I’ve tested it in person where I was not turned away.

Thankfully I was able to speak to someone at the store afterwards and they agreed with me, apologised and said they would speak to the assistant. That was nice. I appreciated that as I spent half the time in the changing room finding evidence to show to the assistant when I came out. For the record, the store was Marks and Spencer and they've publicly stated that their changing rooms are gender neutral. Trans and non-binary folk should not fear shopping there and trying on clothes wherever they want.

The event didn’t spoil my day thanks to the apology but it did throw me a little. I enjoy playing with clothes in ways I never did. It’s a creative outlet for me and a way of being a bit punk. Finding clothes that fit is hard enough, but when I also have to test the gender policies of the store it can be too much. For a brief moment today, when I presented in the way society expects, the world ignored me and I was calm. When I dared to show my true self I was met with confusion. It’s exhausting constantly having to push to be seen so I can one day be unseen.

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