Ladies’ or men’s? Use whichever fitting room you feel comfy in, says M&S The Times 01.11.19

The original article is here.

Marks & Spencer has upset some shoppers by declaring that customers can use whichever fitting room they “feel comfortable” with regardless of their gender.

Female customers expressed concerns that men could be allowed to try on clothes in ladies’ changing rooms.

Jean Hatchet, a feminist campaigner, claimed on social media yesterday that a man had used female changing rooms in a store while a teenage girl was having a bra fitting.

In response, a company spokesperson said: “All M&S fitting rooms have lockable cubicles designed to protect each customer’s privacy. As a business, we strive to be inclusive and therefore, we allow customers the choice of which fitting room they feel comfortable to use, in respect of how they identify themselves.”

The statement prompted a backlash online and some women said they would no longer shop at the stores.

Ms Hatchet, 53, from Yorkshire, said the company’s response was dismissive of women’s concerns. “If you have a bra-fitting area in a women’s changing room then it is for women and girls with breasts to be talking about their bodies and should not be accessed by men,” she said. “This is utterly unacceptable to compromise women’s wellbeing and their safety.”

She wrote on Twitter: “Cubicle or no cubicle. Curtain or no curtain. Open space changing or not. Men should not have access to any of these female spaces alongside women.”

There has been growing debate over the issue in recent years and some women’s groups argue that allowing transgender people to use female changing rooms undermines women’s rights. The Equalities Act prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment.

Marks & Spencer was embroiled in a similar row last year after the Silent Witness actress Liz Carr complained that her transgender friend had been refused entry into a fitting room.