Colton Stankowski was asked to leave a women’s clothing store when she told an employe that she was shopping for herself. (Envato Elements)
A trans woman from Calgary, Canada, was told she was making shoppers “uncomfortable” in a women’s clothing store and was asked to leave – and now she’s fighting back.
Colton Stankowski opened up about the traumatising ordeal in an interview with 666CityNews – and revealed how she has since worked to turn the upsetting moment into a positive experience with the help of TikTok.
Stankowski told the news outlet that she was browsing clothes in NV Fashions in Calgary, Canada, when an employee asked her to leave the premises.
“She said, ‘That makes customers uncomfortable.’ They just kind of told me to leave and there was a weird vibe from the employee there.
“So I just kind of left and never went back,” she added.
Staff at Calgary store allegedly asked her to leave when they found out she was trans.
Colton had visited the store on a previous occasion, but told staff that she was shopping for a partner, meaning she was allowed to continue shopping as normal.
But employees at the store quickly turned on her, she said, when she told them that she was shopping for herself on a subsequent visit.
“Some people might not fully understand it, but I think examples like this are reasons why people should be more conscious of it and aware to just let people have their freedom and be who they want to be,” Stankowski said.
Stankowski left the store, as instructed by staff, but she decided to fight back and try to turn the shocking moment into an empowering one.
She shared her story on TikTok, and later began to share information about inclusive clothing stores in her area that had only ever made her feel welcome.
Her videos have attracted huge attention from trans and non-binary people across the world, with many leaving names of stores in their own areas in the comments where they’ve been treated with dignity and respect.
Stankowski said the positivity she has encountered on TikTok has “totally made up for the negative experience”.
“I didn’t even really think there was that much of a community out there that would really care,” she said.
She added: “It’s not necessarily easy to block out external judgement or something like that like in this situation, but in the long run it’s just so much better to just do what you want to do with your life, whether it’s your clothing or your identity, or whatever it is.”
PinkNews has contacted NV Fashions for comment.