On November 30th, a trans woman was shopping for clothing in a Macy’s in San Antonio,Texas. She had exited the women’s fitting room and was about to reenter when she was stopped by a Macy’s employee and told that since she was a man, she would have to use the men’s fitting room. It turns out that Macy’s has a pretty amazing LGBT policy, which states that trans people can change in the fitting room of the gender they identify with. The trans woman and her friends were aware of this policy, and brought it up, but the employee, Natalie Johnson, refused to comply with the policy. This refusal led to Johnson being fired by Macy’s.
Natalie Johnson has now filed a complaint with the Federal Employment Commission, claiming that Macy’s decision to fire her violated her religious freedom. According to Johnson’s religious beliefs, transgendered people do not exist. In an interview with KSAT, an ABC News affiliate, Johnson said, “There are no transgenders in the world. A guy can dress up as a woman all he wants. That’s still not going to make you a woman .”
Johnson contacted Liberty Counsel, who agreed to take her case. Liberty Counsel “is an international nonprofit dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family.” On its website, Liberty Counsel points out that it “does not limit its services to Christians, as the rights of Christians are affected positively by defending the rights of others.” Unless you’re transgendered, apparently.
In Liberty Counsel’s press release about the incident, they describe the trans woman as “wearing make-up and girl’s clothing, but clearly he was a male.” Even better, they go on to say that “Macy’s has essentially opened women’s dressing rooms to every man,” and that “the LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd.” Liberty Counsel is implying that all sorts of sicko male perverts are going to slap on some make-up and then run to Macy’s to prey on the innocent and helpless females in the dressing room.
What Liberty Counsel implies, others are only too happy to spell out. For instance, one blogger, Steven Greydanus, wrote, “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?”
His commenters take it further –
“These folks aren’t interested in equality. Their [sic] want inequality of the type exhibited in this story. They want to be more equal than others.” – David B.
(Just let that sink in for a second…)
“Macy’s operates in America which is a Christian country—and Christianity is the largest organization in the world – why would they want to alienate those shoppers?…For those who may disagree – remember, there is only one truth – it’s either right or wrong and it is the duty of the individual to seek truth and live it courageously.” – Anonymous
“Everyone wants to do something they shouldn’t – some things, like cross dressing, are just sometimes more obvious than, for example, eating an entire chocolate cake.” – Valerie
Another commenter, Kelly, called Macy’s “an anti american homo shop.”
The idea that transgendered people are just “cross dressers” looking for women to harass seems prevalent, as is the idea that this is just another case of “homosexuals” wanting more than they deserve. What fascinates and horrifies me about these comments (and, indeed, about the whole case) is that these people don’t know anything about transgendered people, and they don’t care to know. These people can’t decide whether trans women are just gay men who like to put on women’s clothing, for reasons unexplained, or whether they’re straight men who are putting on women’s clothing to be perverse, and to prey on women. And trans men might as well not exist!
These people, the ones who side with Natalie Johnson, whether they believe that transgendered people exist or not – they want to limit the entire human race to their very narrow and rather misinformed view of the world. This, to me, is unconscionable. Their outright refusal to live harmoniously with people who are in any way different from them is scary. To prove my point: Natalie Johnson doesn’t just want her job back. She also wants Macy’s policies changed to fit her religious viewpoint.
Since 2007, Macy’s has received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign because of their treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And they aren’t backing down now. Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and External Affairs, released the following statement:
“Macy’s is very proud of our philosophy of diversity and inclusion, and we welcome all customers into our stores. This includes customers of all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, faith traditions, countries of origins and lifestyle preferences. We strive to ensure that each customer is able to shop in a discrimination-free environment.”
Which means, Natalie Johnson, that you don’t get to discriminate against Macy’s customers. Even under the dubious guise of “religious freedom.”