When this transgender woman was being harassed while shopping, her fellow customers stepped in. How would you react to seeing a clothing store employee discriminating against a transgender woman simply for shopping there? That instance of transphobia is exactly what a recent episode of ABC’s What Would You Do? sets out to answer, setting up the situation and seeing how regular, unscripted people would do when faced with the confrontation. The story is heart-warming.
The clip begins with Jen, a transgender woman, trying on a dress, only to have a woman who works at the store named Ariane respond rudely to her. The employee asks if this is for a “costume,” calling the shopper “a drag queen or a transvestite or something.” The worker then asks the transgender woman to take the dress off, to not rip it, and that “no one else is going to want to wear it after you’ve had it on.” The employee says there are other customers to take care of — you know, “real women” — and asks the customer, referred to as “sir,” to leave.
This is just one instance of transphobia that can happen for transgender people in everyday life. Given the fact that we live in a time when a transgender woman can succeed in politics while the president speaks about a ban transgender people from the military as a whole, it’s good to know that there is a lot of love and compassion in the world. This shows when realizing that there are many issues facing the transgender community but, at the same time, we’re seeing more and more people reveal their true selves.
And so begins the social experiment at a boutique named Hazel in Ramsey, N.J.
Our first subject is quick to step in and side with Jen, complimenting her on the dress she is wearing. The woman defends Jen and chastises Ariane for even questioning Jen’s gender identity, saying “that doesn’t really matter” and “that’s not what this town or this store is about at all,” adding that she is both “offended” and “very upset” by what has happened.
After a few other encounters, it’s time for the final one — a woman who approaches Jen, asks if she is OK, and even goes as far as hugging her and asking if they could shop together. When Ariane returns to further escalate the problem, the woman shuts it down.
“Because she looked sad,” the woman explains when asked why she chose to hug Jen. “It shook me. I don’t think anyone should ever say anything like that to anyone. No one should judge them for any kind of reasons.”
“I’m grateful there are people like you in the world,” Jen tells the woman.
“It upset me because, you know, I don’t know how she has to go through this — I can’t even imagine. I give you a lot of credit to being genuine to who you are,” the woman tells Jen, who returns the kind words right back.
And, as it began, the two embrace in one more hug.
What shopping experiences have you had?