A mother has thanked a North Carolina girl’s clothing store that went above and beyond to make sure her son could try on clothes there.
North Carolina has been the setting of large-scale battles on LGBT rights, after Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign the contentious HB 2 – which banned transgender people from using their preferred bathroom or changing room, and permits businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of religious belief.
However, away from the political squabbles, HB 2 had a very personal impact on one family in the state.
Proud mum Martie Todd Sirois lives in state capital Raleigh with her husband and three children, including her 10-year-old son who often wears gender non-conforming clothing.
Ms Sirois took to Facebook to recall how after the law came in, she was terrified to take her son shopping in a tween clothing store, Justice, because it is branded as “just for girls”.
She lamented: “I wondered whether a clothing store that touts itself as ‘just for girls’ would be open to a boy trying on their clothes. I wondered whether they’d have a legal right to deny my son entry to a female dressing room.”
The family got help from another mum of a transgender child, who volunteered to go to the store and find out if they would accommodate trans children.
She continued: “Store manager Stephnie assured her that ‘everyone is welcome at Justice’ and any rudeness or discrimination from fellow customers would not be tolerated. She spoke of how Justice’s parent company, Ascena, helped donate without question after the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub. We definitely had an advocate at this store.”
“Friday afternoon at 4:45, I was leaving work and I decided to call the store to make sure our advocate, Stephnie, was working. She was, however, she stated her shift was over at 5:15, but that the girl taking over after her was just as welcoming.
“We rushed to get there, and just around 5:10 arrived. There were no other customers in the store. My son’s eyes were huge and overwhelmed with possibilities.
“Stephnie came right over to greet us didn’t bat an eyelash, and basically took on the role of my son’s personal shopper for the evening.
“After getting a feel for what colours, textures, and patterns he liked, Stephnie showed us several possibilities, from sequined mini skirts to slim jeggings.
“My son LOVED them all. We went to the changing room, and my son couldn’t get those clothes on fast enough.
She continued: “Once that first outfit was on, he posed and admired himself in the mirror, spun around in circles to see the skirt poof out, and studied himself from all angles in every possible combination of outfits. It was pure joy.
“My son dropped his frequent doom and gloom look and suddenly sprang to life in these clothes. There was no denying he became a different, more confident, and happier child when wearing pretty things.”
“I was blown away by the fact that Stephnie stayed well-past her shift’s end, just to continue working with us.
“She made my son feel beautiful and totally free of judgement. I want to thank her for that precious, precious gift. I rarely get to see my son being his full potential, his absolute true self in public. She encouraged that and even helped bring it out. I felt so much hope for the future.
She continued: “I want to say an extra special thank you to Ascena Retail Group, and to the Raleigh branch of Justice, at Poyner Place behind Triangle Town Center.
“I want to say a super-duper thanks to store manager, Stephnie, who went waaaaay above & beyond, and gave my son a safe place for two hours of his life that will no doubt impact his future in a big way.”