After sharing her experience on Tiktok, Filipino trans woman gets a response from Zara

'Sa lahat ng LGBT, tagumpay natin ito,' Louis said.

Last Oct. 19, Filipino trans woman Louis Marasigan shared on Tiktok her unfortunate shopping experience at international clothing brand Zara’s Bonifacio Global City (BGC) branch. In the video, the municipal councilor of San Juan, Batangas detailed how she was barred from using its dressing room for women. 

Louis Marasigan (Still from Tiktok); Zara (Photo by Highlight ID on Unsplash)

Pumasok ako sa fitting room ng babae. May lumapit sa akin na babae, sabi niya '’Sir, sa taas po kayo.’ Sabi ko, 'Bakit po?’ Sabi niya na iyong fitting room ng mga lalaki nasa taas,” she said. Louis continued to explain that she’s a trans woman to the store staff, but still, she wasn’t allowed to use the women’s fitting room as other customers might complain. Louis then went on to the counter to pay for the pieces and complain about the situation. The manager talked to her about her concern. Louis assumed the manager was gay and expected to resolve the issue with the staff, to lecture them that what they did was wrong. But instead, she was asked if the complaint was over. Louis paid for the pieces and left the store humiliated.

@luismarasigan @ZARA its 2022 wake up no to GENDER DISCRIMINATION #LGBT #SOGIE #transitioner ♬ original sound - Angelo Marasigan

‘Allyship goes beyond rainbow capitalism’

The video, which now has over 9.3 million views on Tiktok, gained many reactions from netizens. Trans activist Mela Habijan shared her views on social media about the situation and said that “a lot of Filipinos still don’t recognize trans women as women.” She encouraged Zara Philippines to have a discussion about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) with all its employees, the Taguig LGU to strictly implement the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, and called for the passing of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the country.

Sharing the same sentiment is the Filipino LGBTQI student organization UP Babaylan saying that “the experience of Ms. Marasigan is a manifestation of the challenges and struggles that the trans community experiences. From being denied facilities to being unwelcome to certain vicinities, our trans siblings have been victims of unequal treatment solely because of their gender identity.”

“Zara claims to be an ally of our community through their projects and products that celebrate the queer movement. However, genuine allyship goes beyond rainbow capitalism,” the group continued.

Zara’s response

On Oct. 21, Louis gave an update via Tiktok and shared that the brand has reached out to her. In their conversation, the Filipino trans woman was asked to visit the BGC store again, and although she was hesitant to do it, she accepted. According to her, the brand wants to show her “how the staff will be trained about gender sensitivity” and “how they can provide better customer service,” and asked her to give her input to improve their assistance.

@luismarasigan Replying to @Angelo Marasigan LGBT community tagumpay naten eto! Habang nag iintay pa ng durther updates mula sa @ZARA ♬ original sound - Angelo Marasigan

She also clarified a few things with the brand during their conversation. Zara is owned by Inditex, a global retail company that “is committed to empowering every individual to express their own identity with the purpose of leveraging the power of fashion to make positive change.” During their call, Louis talks about its global policy of gender inclusivity, which is applied to Zara stores worldwide. She also asked if the brand has a policy in the Philippines that bans trans women from entering women’s fitting rooms, and the brand replied that it is “impossible.” As per the brand, adults, of any gender, are not allowed to use the fitting room dedicated to children. 

Sa lahat ng LGBT, tagumpay natin ito,” Louis said in the end of her video. 

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