Kylie Smith thought she’d found the homecoming gown she was looking for.
It had been three years since Smith, 17, told her loved ones she was a girl. She’d known her whole life that she was different, but didn’t have the words to describe that difference to her family.
The word is transgender.
“I was a very angry child,” she said. “I think that’s because I wasn’t able to express who I am.”
After coming out as transgender, Smith said, there was a period of adjustment, but the people in her life were accepting. Clothes were a way to connect with the person she knew herself to be.
This week, however, she was reminded that, when it comes to acceptance of transgender individuals, there’s still a ways to go. She and her best friend were hunting for dresses at Lucia’s Boutique, a north Spokane dress shop, when an employee told her she was not eligible to continue shopping.
The employee said “ ‘Your voice, it’s very deep and you sound like a man,’ ” Smith said. “I said, ‘Well, I’m a girl.’ ”
The employee demanded to see identification. Smith declined and left the store.
Reached for comment, the boutique agreed that the exchange had taken place. By way of explanation, they said that, a while back, a male customer trying on a dress exposed himself to an employee, making her uncomfortable. The business said it allows male and transgender individuals to try on dresses, but by appointment only.
According to Washington state law, however, such a policy is illegal.
Washington Administrative Code 162-32-060 states that “…where undressing in the presence of others occurs, covered entities shall allow use of a facility consistent with an individual’s gender expression or gender identity…” including “restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms.”
Other employees at dress boutiques around town who spoke with KHQ said that they have been able to accommodate transgender and male customers without incident. Finders Keepers, a local boutique, said Smith was welcome to pick out a dress of her choice free of charge.
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