How to Create a Safe Space & Promote Gender Inclusivity
Last Summer, our team here at StoreyLine was shaken to the core, like so many others, with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others at the hands of senseless police violence. One of our team’s core values is amplifying POC and women’s voices, and we want to continue our work to be more inclusive by supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, and people of multiple genders.
While healthcare experts are assisting parents in fostering healthier environments for children’s gender identity and younger generations continue to call out the problems with gender reveal parties, we know society has a long way to go in treating all identities with dignity. We’re also fortunate to have heard from a couple of our community members on the challenges they experienced in developing their own gender identities, and the obstacles they encounter while shopping.
Taylor, a trans woman, loved shopping from the time she was young, and even listed “shopping” as her favorite hobby in an elementary school yearbook! However, she recalls beginning to repress this love when her father and brothers teased her. “Being feminine as someone assigned male at birth is obviously something that’s a great source of anxiety for young boys,” she said. “Though I never felt like one (a boy), I knew my ‘survival’ was contingent on people perceiving me in very specific, gendered ways.” Taylor even went as far as telling herself that she had time to truly be herself as she got older: “ So shopping took a backseat.”
When asked about her favorite brands, Taylor reminisced about walking around three floors of Boston’s Primark with a friend, where she got help picking new outfits and had heart-to-hearts about various topics, which helped make the shopping experience more memorable. “I know that I’m not viewed as trespassing in women’s spaces, but I can’t shake the feeling of 27 years on the other side,” she confided. If I know what I’m looking for, I generally do in-store pickup. Even then... I have definitely given someone my order number followed up with ‘please don’t read them out loud.’”
Want to help create safe spaces and promote gender inclusivity? Here’s how:
- Normalize sharing pronouns: You may have seen a few email signatures or name tags with “she/her,” etc. on occasion, but actively changing introductions to include sharing pronouns or asking people about pronoun usage leads to better allyship.
- Use language that minimizes assumptions: Have you ever been at a large gathering (pre-COVID, obviously), and heard someone ask a young boy, “so do you have a girlfriend?” Did you cringe because 1) he can barely tie his shoes, he’s not looking for romance, and 2) this question is presumptive of sexual orientation? Same. Swapping common words, like “partner” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend, or “sibling” instead of brother/sister is a great way to show openness in conversation, and to show you do not intend to make people feel “othered” with parts of their identity. “They” is an easy way to be unassuming when referring to someone, and for those who still scoff at the use Merriam-Webster took a stand in 2019. So, “they” away!
- Accidentally Misstep? Using the wrong pronoun or name may happen, and it is crucial to own your mistake by correcting yourself quickly without making a scene. For example, if you’re telling a story, it may go something like, “so I went to the movies to meet up with him… her, and we ended up seeing…” Saying the correct pronoun out loud, much like saying someone’s name back when first introduced, is an excellent retrieval cue.
Feeling over the gendered ways brands view consumers? Check out some brands we love!
- Le Mondeur: Le Mondeur strives for meaningful collaborations and unique, artisan textiles in every shoe for every gender! As a bonus, founder Jessica is a human rights lawyer with a focus on gender-based violence and child welfare around the world.
- Flaunt Body: With female influencers dominating the self-care space, basics like body cleanliness have taken on an unnecessarily feminine tone. Brands like Flaunt Body embrace the needs of all genders in sleek, effortless packaging!
- TomBoyX: This brand not only uses intersectional models, but fully understands that underwear does not have to be plain for men, lacy for women, or other tired tropes you’ve seen in the most intimate of clothing. With ten different styles of underwear in countless bright colors and fun patterns, there’s something for everyone!