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Womens Bottms - the funcrunch files


Dec. 27th, 2013 06:16 pm Womens Bottms

After spending most of the last two weeks lounging around the apartment in sweat pants, nursing a bad cold, I was a bit taken aback to find that my jeans felt tight around the waist when I got dressed to go out today. More reason that I think measuring weight alone is pretty useless; the scale said that I weighed four pounds less this week than last, whereas my waist circumference was about the same. In any case, as I'm starting hormone therapy in one week and it will be difficult to avoid gaining some weight (which is fine as I'm still pretty thin), I figured it wouldn't hurt to get another pair or two of larger jeans to accommodate.

I went to Out of the Closet and found two 30"-waist pairs of men's pants, one jeans and one khakis, for $13 total. Loose (my waist is around 27") but will be fine with a belt, which is just what I wanted. Got them rung up, and for the second time since I started shopping for men's clothes there, the receipt read WOMENS BOTTM for both items.

I know I don't (ever) read as male yet. I can't blame the poor sales clerk. I'm more amused than annoyed. But I am still annoyed especially as this is a supposedly LGBT-friendly chain that has people of all kinds of genders shopping there. Even at a thrift store, the clothes should be rung up based on the items, not on the presumed gender of the person bringing them to the counter. Once again I asked boyziggy if he thought they would ring up a skirt as MENS BOTTM if he brought it to the counter. I'm sure they wouldn't. Of course, as he pointed out, there aren't really "men's skirts" (other than kilts).

I'm not going to let this kind of misgendering ruin my day. But I am going to point it out the next time it happens. I just need to remember to look at my receipt before I leave the store. As with the Angry Birds registration form requiring that gender be specified, it might seem like a trivial issue, and it is compared to the very real discrimination and violence many trans people face every day. But the more this casual misgendering is brought to people's attention, the more awareness will be raised, and ultimately, that's the way hearts and minds are changed.

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From:fluffydescent
Date:December 28th, 2013 09:26 am (UTC)

A question for my understanding.

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G'day Funcrunch,

I happened upon your post in the friends feed of random pictures. I hope you don't mind me asking a question?

As I have never shopped in America, it's more about the way in which items are wrung up at the counter. Here in Australia most stores have a scanning system, as you purchase an item it's scanned and the preprogrammed information about the product appears on the receipt.

I assume from your post that this is not the case in the store you shopped at? I ask, because it may not necessarily be the clerk who has made the assumption about your gender, but a mistake on the part of the person who entered the data about the item originally into the system?

If not, I find it bizarre that the clerk would input it based on your gender... what if you happen to be purchasing the items for someone else? You're right, it seems to be a pretty big assumption on the clerk's part, not only about your gender!

I guess I am just an optimist and hoping that someone wasn't showing their unenlightened state! Although, as cis female, who has the stature (6 foot) and proportions of a large man, I'm often confused by clerks to be male so I understand the annoyance. I find though that it's mostly out of sheer laziness and total lack of awareness of the people in front of them!

I know here is Australia things are slowly changing in regards to the acceptance of trans people. For instance the government organisation I work for now has a policy to support trans staff and clients. I know that a friend of mine has managed to have a form changed at her workplace to include the options 'trans' and 'other' under the question of gender. I know it doesn't seem like much, but slowly things are changing for the better. Hopefully, there will be little and big wins on your side of the water. Actually, I hope there are change for the better across all parts of the globe!

From:funcrunch
Date:December 28th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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Hi, thanks for writing! Most retail stores in the U.S. also have a scanning system. But this was a second hand store, so the tags were color-coded and entered by hand. I believe the color-coding at this particular store is based on the general item rather than whether it is men's or women's. And at a quick glance I concede you cannot usually tell what "gender" a pair of pants is. Still, since they rang it up as "women's" I assume they are keeping track of their inventory by gender, and it makes sense for them to be more accurate in that case.

I also didn't want to raise a fuss because thrift stores sometimes employ developmentally disabled adults, and though I couldn't tell in this case I didn't want to get into a conversation with someone who might not have understood or been able to address my concern. Maybe I'll write an e-mail instead...
From:plymouth
Date:December 28th, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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And at a quick glance I concede you cannot usually tell what "gender" a pair of pants is.

Because of this I've had people at the register ask me "are these men's or womens?", which I suppose is slightly better than assuming, but my usual response is "heck if I know" because my general strategy in a thrift store is to check both the men's and women's sections for stuff I like, take it all into the fitting room together, and pick a few things that fit. By which point I have no idea which is which and as far as I'm concerned they're agendered pants because I'm an agendered person wearing them. I've even found pants that clearly had women's sizing on them in the "men's" department ad pants that clearly had men's sizing on them in the "women's" department. Because apparently I am not the only person who doesn't care as long as the pants FIT. So why exactly does the store care so much for tracking purposes? And if they really DO care, why don't they just put different colored tags on them to keep track?
From:funcrunch
Date:December 28th, 2013 08:53 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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Well for me the significant difference is that women's pants usually have incomprehensible sizing which varies significantly from brand to brand and year to year, whereas men's pants usually list waist and inseam. Also, men's pants tend to have larger pockets, which is really important to me now that I've finally stopped carrying a fanny pack.

But in general, when it comes to clothes, I agree with Eddie Izzard (paraphrasing because I can't find the exact quote): "They're not 'women's clothes'. They're not 'men's clothes'. I bought them. They're mine."
From:fluffydescent
Date:December 28th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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Yes! The pocket size! I tend to purchase 'mens' pants, as I mentioned previously I'm quite tall, and they tend to be longer and have decent sized pockets. I hate having to carry anything that doesn't fit in a pocket. Pocketless pant make me cry.

I have to agree on your sizing comment. 'Womens' clothing sizes are all over shop. I can be three different sizes for the same style of pants depending on the brand. Yet, with 'mens' pants the sizing is based on inches, not some made up fantasy sizing! And therefore much easier to identify appropriately sized items.

I wish that the fashion industry, well all industries, would remove the gender bias. It's unnecessary, presumptive and generally problematic. I also wish the wider community would understand that gender is no longer two options of black and white, but a spectrum wonderful colors.

I think the email is great idea. Hopefully it will offer a chance for someone to be positively educated.

(I apologise for all the comments from a random stranger!)
From:plymouth
Date:December 28th, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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Oh and sometimes (though not always) they even have different prices for "men's" vs "women's" in some category. I'm thinking maybe next time my response should be "whichever one is cheaper" :)
From:funcrunch
Date:December 28th, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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Yes, Ziggy asked about that when I complained about the gender on the receipt; if the price had been higher for WOMENS I definitely would have gone back to complain.
From:fluffydescent
Date:December 28th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)

Re: A question for my understanding.

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This totally sucks. I've never understood the price variance in regards to clothing, or anything sex specific. For example, here in Aus, you'll pay more for 'womens' razors then 'mens', yet they are exactly the same. Frustrating. And yet people will pay the extra...