Former Macy’s Worker Turned Social Conservative Darling: ‘There Are No Transgenders in the World
When Natalie Johnson saw a young transgender woman entering the dressing room at a Texas Macy’s, she moved swiftly to interrupt her, telling her that she was in the wrong place.
“I had to just be straightforward and tell him [sic], ‘You’re a man,’ and of course that … really got him steamed,” Johnson told KSAT.
But Macy’s LGBT-inclusive policy explicitly allows transgender customers to use the dressing room of the gender they identify with, and the customer’s friends argued with Johnson. Eventually, Johnson was called in to see her manager, who told Johnson that transgender people were allowed to use the dressing room that corresponds with their gender identity.
Johnson replied by saying that she couldn’t allow “men” to use women’s fitting rooms, and asked for a religious exemption to the rule, explaining that her religious beliefs—which she said were also covered by Macy’s inclusive policies—prohibited her from “lying.” She was summarily fired.
Now, Johnson has filed a complaint with the Federal Employment Commission, and has become a lightning rod for right-wing anti-transgender sentiment.
The Liberty University-affiliated Liberty Counsel has thrown itself behind Johnson, issuing a petition and encouraging supporters to call Macy’s and express their dissatisfaction with the company’s inclusive policy.
“This policy is absurd, and everyone who hears of it is shocked,” said Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver. “Macy’s policy has placed every woman at risk of sexual assault and even rape. To regain the confidence of its customers, Macy’s need to immediately change its policy.”
Staver and Johnson were scheduled to appear on Fox News on Sunday, but as of this writing no video has been made available.
Staver’s remarks hold little bearing with reality: Numerous studies have found that about 50 percent of transgender Americans report being physically or sexually assaulted, with rates of harassment much higher than the general population. Trans women are far more likely to be the victims of assault and harassment, even in women’s restrooms and fitting rooms, than perpetrators. And the vast majority of Americans support legal protections for transgender people, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released last month.
But Johnson holds that she did the right thing, and that she has the right to determine who belongs in which fitting room.
“There are no transgenders in the world,” she said. “A guy can dress up as a woman all he wants. That’s still not going to make you a woman.”
Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.