Being served buying clothes as a transgender woman

  • Creator
  • #22803
    Melanie Taylor

    Hello Ladies

    I am posting to get your views on how you have been served by shop staff when buying women’s clothing.

    Whilst I have not (yet?) experienced open hostility from anyone; I have been scowled at, served with what feels like reluctance and sucking of teeth. This has happened in both stores and charity / welfare shops. Sometimes it’s other customers that show their disapproval. In my early days of shopping, a teen age sales assistant informed me that “men shouldn’t buy women’s clothing”. It was a skirt and girly socks I had been buying then.

    There is one rather fierce woman who volunteers in my favourite charity shops who, when I was buying a long skirt, unfolded it and asked “you do realise this is a skirt don’t you SIR?”.

    I replied “yes thanks, I tried it one and it fits just fine”; smiled at her and paid for it. I noted her gritted teeth and look of venom as I walked out. (I don’t count this as hostility).

    On the other hand, I have been treated just like a fellow woman in a few stores. I visited a boutique that was closing down and at first got the customary question “are you all right sir” but then the three lovely mature ladies caught sight of my heeled boots and sparkle on my trousers and their attitude changed. They helped me pick out a skirt and hosiery to go with it. We chatted and they called me “lovey” and “Sweetie” which I thought was really nice.

    Most older women are very accepting and some younger ones too; especially the more perceptive ones who quickly realise I don’t identify as male. I always prefer to be served by women although even in Asda /Walmart, none of the male checkout people bat an eyelid when I’ve bought bras, tights or even stockings.

    I would love to hear your experiences of shopping, good and bad.

    Love and hugs from Melanie xxx

    7 users thanked author for this post.
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  • Author
    • #92340
      Boyce Coe

      If I still Identified as a woman and worked in retail, I would gladly help you find anything you wanted or needed. In fact, I would have considered it an honor. I hate reading about the hateful and prejudice and judgmental responses that some of your repliers and yourself have had. There is definitely a cultural and societal norm difference between a “man (cis or passing  or transitioned” calling saying, “Listen here, bitch…” to a woman vs a “woman (cis, passing, or transitioned)” saying “listen here, bitch…” to another female. I can see why it would be an awkward situation based upon that alone…

      Now that I am legally male on drivers license, birth certificate, and with SSA, even though I still get those looks “is that a guy or a girl,” I have to catch myself from saying to a judgmental woman, “what the f*** are you looking at bitch,” because I don’t want to be charged with harrassment or any other charge. I think going into the men’s department and trying on clothes in the men’s dressing room is kind of like women using the men’s bathroom stall, when the line for the women’s restroom is too long, so there is less judgement, or at least that is my thought process. If a man were to confront me in some way about it, I’d just tell him to f*** off. However, it is socially acceptable for a person viewed as a women to make comments like that, regardless of the other party’s gender identity, to the other person. The hypocrisy in this socially incongruent act between was is socially acceptable for women but not for men seems more reflective of the imbedded fear within our society that is based upon archaic notions of chivalry; not to say chivalry is bad, but that it is not appropriate in every context.

      I definitely think, based on this alone, would make a “bio man” experience more negative feedback and judgement while buying women’s clothing for “himself (as perceived by others),” than it would be/is for a “bio female” to buy men’s clothing for “herself (as perceived by others)”.

    • #87694
      J Keiper

      I’ve never experienced hostility, luckily, even back when I was still mostly in the world in male mode.

      It’s been years since I’ve actually been in male mode, since I’ve donated all my male clothes a long time ago, and am 100% of the time femme. I pretty much always dress to blend in when I’m out and about in the world, at least if I’m out doing normal, boring life things like shopping or other errands.

      Every time I’ve gone clothing shopping, sales people have always been friendly and helpful, even when I may have looked like a deer in headlights, like when I first started buying makeup and needed lots of help.

      I like to believe that people are becoming more accepting, and maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s because they just don’t care.

      It’s definitely been helpful in making me feel more comfortable with myself

    • #87681

      When i first started shopping for women’s clothing i would say i was looking for a fashionable gift for my wife, girlfriend, or other important woman in my life. I would always indicate she was about my size and they usually seemed fine with that and were helpful, even though at times i broke a sweat.

      among those that caught on, reactions ranged between  “That would be a nice gift, but this would fit your frame much better” to outright refusing to help or asking me to leave the store. Most people are friendly and just trying to earn their keep. If you are refused or treated badly at a store, don’t go to that store unless its your only option. Fearful people provoke violence. I would even tell my friends(all kinds) about my treatment there so they don’t have to deal with those people either.



    • #82430

      Melanie,I am a crossdresser who enjoys grocery shopping enfemme and who also shops enfemme for my<michelle s>outfits from female head to toe.Will I ever pass 100% as a woman?No and it does not bother me.Most people are too busy to notice anything going on around them and yes, I catch the inevitable question”Are you a male or female?”Often we are dressed better than whomever is asking that question.I try to blend in,have a smile on my face and a positive attitude.Three out of four ladies I encounter embrace enthusiastically the fact that I can pass and function as Michelle whether in heels or flats.Enjoy your feminity and have a great life.

    • #82256
      Marianne Tornander

      Dear Melanie,

      Since I first bought myself a pair of 4″ heels in a Wallmart kind of store 20 years ago, I  have been on countless shopping trips all around Sweden. Until the fall of 2012 I was always in more or less male mode, though mostly wearing female undergarments and my breast forms as to be able to try thimgs on for fit. For the last eight years however I usually present as the woman I identify with. Only once in twenty years I have been outright denied trying some dresses on, in a clear state of disapproval, and twice in a certain store, I’ve been welcomed but asked to use the men’s dressing rooms. And those were both in male mode. My general experience has been one of excellent service and genuine care and interest, with shop assistants helping me find what I’m looking for and occasionally coming by the dressing room asking if I need help with zippers or would like to try another size, just as I’ve seen them do for other women. Sometimes i may be unsure of the fit or look and will then model the clothes for a sales assistant, asking for their opinion and input. Never have I been laughed at or ridiculed but instead I have had tons of supportive comments about how good I look and how well I carry myself as a woman.

    • #82211
      DeeAnn Hopings

      Primarily I shop in thrift stores, in person and online. Pricing comes into play, but I can afford to shop in department stores. However, my wardrobe would probably be only 25% of what it is now. Also, I am not concerned with being In Style as I dress to be Stylish. I have some clothing items and jewelry pieces that are over 50 years old. I do shop at Target or Macy’s for undergarments (panties and shareware), but rarely for bras as their cup sizes usually stop short of what I need. Sometimes I do shop in person at TJ Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s. There are about 6 thrift stores here in the valley that I will check out periodically. There are MANY thrift shops run by charities here, but those 2 organizations with the 6 shops are my favorites. There is also a chain of thrift stores called SAVERS. They started in Canada and now have stores in the US and Australia. What they do is partner with a local charity and it’s a win-win for all. Over the years, I’ve been in 8 or 9 stores across the US. They are all laid out essentially the same and sort by SIZE!! Unfortunately the closest one is about an hour away, but I do make periodic pilgrimages.

      So, it is rare for me to encounter any problems. No issues in department stores that I know of. When I have had issues in thrift stores it has been when I’m not dressed, but nothing really untoward. A female customer walked up to me as I was sifting through the racks and said “Do you know that you are in the women’s section?”. I simply said “Yes, I do.” and that was all. Based on this and a few other situations, I decided to be dressed when I go shopping.

      Anyway, when I go shopping, that is what I am there to do. I don’t look around to see who is looking at me. I am focused on what I am doing. I don’t engage with people unless they engage with me. I’ve hung up items while I’m looking them over for wear, damage, material composition, etc. and had someone say “Oh, that’s a very nice piece.” and a brief conversation started. By being dressed, it gets over the first hurdle of “Why is a man shopping in the women’s section?”. It doesn’t shout “Wrong Place, Wrong Place!!”.

      I am a MINI owner and some years back at an event I was given several shopping bags. They were recycled from outdoor advertising banners. The things are damn near bulletproof! Usually I go to the grocery store dressed. Some of the cashiers have commented on how rugged the bags are and I explain what they are and how I happened to have them. One time I was not dressed and a cashier who had checked me out many times before looked at the bags, looked at me, looked at the bags again and the light bulb went off. She didn’t say anything, but you could tell that she knew. It was sort of funny to watch!

      Anyway, the trick is to behave just like any other shopper. People pick up on difference. If everything looks roughly in line, usually that will get you over. Noticing 5 o’clock shadow etc. is not helpful. I am always nicely dressed when I leave the house. Sometimes I am quite colorful in a tasteful way. Other times I am dressed in black and that allows my turquoise or copper jewelry stand out. A hat and big sunglasses complete the picture…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #24256

      I myself enjoy shopping and buying clothing at our women’s stores I have been told one time that I was in the wrong store. After that time I don’t worry about it and just tell the clerk’s that the clothes are for me and I am acceped with open arms to get the best size and colors to match. I am proud to be a woman!!!


      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #23767

      I began my adventure of being out and  about and shopping in public places, about 15 years ago. I would dash-in to a shop, or store, select my desired garments, furtively moving about hoping to avoid attracting attention. In a chance encounter with some very nice women a few years later, As I attended an event held by a cross-dressing group, in a hotel, that was at least somewhat openminded and more to the idea as merely being fun, which was also held in conjunction with Halloween. While I was certainly cross-dressing, my goal was ultimately to present myself authentically, as the woman I felt was hiding underneath.

      Many in the group never left the venue, and merely stayed in and partied. I was sucked in to taking a stroll out on the streets, with one of the more brave souls in order to find a pair of shoes. At that time I was wearing a simple casual dress and black flats and a newly purchased wig. As we walled along the street, we met a crowd, that included and two couples. The men were oblivious, to us but one of the women caught my eye, looked at me, with a knowing smile, and winked, nudging her friend who also smiled. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, feeling I had just accomplished something magical. Fast forward a few hours, and we all gettin ready for our evening meal, all dressed in our finest. This I had really prepared for,and I felt my best and even comfortable, as I waited in the lobby for a group to show up. Much to my surprise, I see the two women I had encountered earlier, with a group of women, who had zeroed in on me, before I even noticed them. They were curious as to what event was going on as it was private, but had the number of men dressed enfemme, had clearly peaked their interest. As women would, the interest was in clothing and makeup, how we came to look so good. “Where did you buy this dress?” “Where did you get your nails done?” Etc, etc. nothing about being weird or even a hint of disgust.  They were so interested and affirming, and I was really more comfortable, than I imagined I could ever be. I was so open that I revealed a bit more than I normally would have, saying this was more than Halloween dress-up for me, and it was about what I really felt I was meant to be. As those words came out, I was almost trying to pull them back, fearing I had said too much. The woman who had been most engaging, didn’t bat an eye, and said, “Honey, you need to be who want to be” I could have fainted.

      The group I had been waiting for, came and went not seeing me because of being surrounded by the women. I continued to chat with the women for another half hour, and upon leaving on of them told me she worked in an upscale consignment store in a nearby town, and to come by anytime I wanted to shop. Still being a bit intimidated, I wanted to ask if she was sure it was okay, but she stopped me with a response Athat was priceless. She told me I had “”Membership card” to any women’s store I wanted to shop in. What was it? Cash and my credit card!

      So in the end, I did visit her store, and she was very gracious with her assistance. She is still a friend and I value her very much.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #22815
      Miss Cloé

      Other than being stalked by an ex friend in a Wal-mart parking lot trying to catch a peak and, given her personality, likely to have given me an earful in a public display of hostility, the worst I’ve had was some people being snooty, but then again I had some of that in boy mode.

      One key I’ve sued is to be engaging to start with, carry myself in a confident and purposeful manner and to just own being trans.

      Hugs, Cloe

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #23292

        Owning being trans is a great phrase and something I will try and do as I go about my day to day life. We are all on a journey of a kind, cis and trans people. I know I’m a woman in my head, heart and soul and if I don’t yet look like the Melanie I want to be and know I am; I ask myself (and others): “is a cygnet any less of a swan?”.

        4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #22809

      Hi, Melanie.

      I can’t think of a single time interacting with clerks or grocery baggers that hasn’t gone pleasantly. Maybe my own attitude helps, in that I always assume I’ve been read, so I smile and say hello and ask how they’re doing, and plonk my bag on the counter to get my wallet out like all the other girls do, and I end up receiving pleasant conversations and friendly services.

      Now yes I know with each word I speak I’m giving my feminine voice a chance to screw up, and by making eye contact I’m inviting scrutiny,  but I just don’t care. I’ve been out with many of our sisters who never smile, speak or look up, and they’re quite frankly not doing us any favors.

      The way I’ve learned to force myself to do it is to tell myself that even when they know I’m a man that looks like and dresses like a woman they’ll maybe, hopefully, think I’m a nice woman, or at worst a nice guy that happens to dress as a woman.

      Hugs, Selina

      8 users thanked author for this post.
      • #24188

        So positive reactions mostly; that’s wonderful. I am getting more confident buying clothes as Melanie, especially underwear and not just ordering on line.  I keep telling myself that I’m a grown woman who knows her own mind and perfectly entitled to buy and wear stockings and suspenders if I want too. I’m trying on boots and shoes more now and don’t mind if my hosiery is on show as I do so.

        You are all so right; getting into a female mindset is key to walking out with confidence. I have a very accepting and affirming therapist and one of my female friends knows about my journey and is also supportive. The big test will be telling my parents.

        Love and hugs from Melanie xxx

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