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H&M bans trans woman from trying on swimsuit in the Philippines

H&M bans trans woman from trying on swimsuit in the Philippines

The front of a HH&M store

Staff at a H&M Philippines store stopped a trans woman from trying on a swimsuit because ‘the swimsuit might get ruined if men try it on’.

Paulo Adrian Bataller decided to share her ordeal on Facebook in the ‘spirit of Pride month’. She shared this story even though she has experienced plenty of discrimination in her lifetime.

‘I don’t usually post stuff like this on social media but in the spirit of pride month I decided to speak up,’ she wrote.

According to Bataller a staff member stopped her trying on a swimsuit. She explained she was trans, but the retail assistant still refused to let her try it on.

‘The swimsuit might get ruined if men try it on,’ the staff member said.

Bataller said they were discriminating against her and she had even tried on a swimsuit at the same store the day before. But the staff member insisted on getting his manager.

‘Ending up, they didn’t allow me. As someone who works in the fashion industry, I am deeply disappointed. No one should ever be restricted in fitting or buying the clothes they want, regardless of gender,’ Bataller wrote.

‘Take note, the staff who didn’t allow me is gay and I thought he would be more understanding. Instead, he just raised his voice and emphasized that I’m a man. As someone who identifies herself as a woman, this is very hurtful and offensive.’

Bataller said she hopes this doesn’t happen again to anyone else. She also encouraged people to stand up for themselves and ‘uphold your rights’.

H&M Pride

The incident with Bataller came just a week after H&M Philippines was spruiking its Pride collection on social media.

But after hearing about Bataller’s experience, H&M issued a statement saying it was ‘very sorry for the experience she had, this should never happen to her or to anyone’.

‘We are currently investigating the situation and have been coordinating with both the customer and the said store. We will be taking immediate corrective actions in order to avoid this from happening again, and most of all, to further reiterate the idea and practice of inclusiveness to our colleagues in the Philippines,’ H&M said in a statement to Rappler.

‘At H&M, we have zero-tolerance policy on discrimination. We celebrate diversity and respect our customers and colleagues regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

‘We have a strong and clear guidelines on this as part of the training program that every H&M employee goes through – new and current.’

H&M also said: ‘apart from the many works we have had and are on-going with regards to diversity, this month, we have launched a special collection called Love For All in celebration of the Pride season. 10% of the sales from this collection will be donated to the UN Free & Equal’.

Anti-discrimination bill

The incident with Bataller highlights the need for more effective anti-discrimination policies in the Philippines.

The Philippines Senate is moving at a glacial pace on an SOGIE Equality Bill which would make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGIE).

Last year, the bill sailed through Congress with a unanimous 197-0 vote in favor of passing the anti-discrimination measures.

But people around the country are calling for the government to act on it soon.