Mary experiences discrimination

The transition of Caitlyn Jenner may have received global support and thrown the spotlight on discrimination towards the trans community – but it doesn’t seem to have filtered down to New Zealand retail.

Whilst shopping with best friend at Farmers Botany today, Kiwi transgender personality Mary Haddock-Staniland was asked by staff in the women’s fashion department if she was a man or woman; then described within earshot to other shoppers as ‘half woman’.

“It just proves large companies like Farmers aren’t adequately training their staff in LGBIT issues,” says Mary. “As a trans person, mild humiliation is sadly par for the course when shopping; I use the women’s changing rooms and ask if my best friend can come in with me, a reasonable request and one I’m sure they get all the time,” she says.

“But this was on another level. I am a customer like any other, there to shop, not to be laughed at, not served and described loudly to other customers as in a derogatory way.”

“I have never been in a situation like that, with Mary or otherwise,” says Harvey, who is in customer service as a job. “I was gobsmacked that such a thing could happen.”

Haddock-Staniland doesn’t usually discuss such experiences publicly but with an extensive background in Human Recourses wants to use this incident as an opportunity to ask New Zealand businesses to take a look at their diversity training practices.

“No person of any kind should be treated this way,” says Mary. “But let’s use this is a chance to make a change in our society.”

Miranda Likeman