A fierce debate rolled on Good Morning Britain over Topshop’s decision to abolish women-only changing rooms in favour of gender neutral spaces after pressure from transgender customers.
Talulah-Eve, the 23-year-old model who earned fame as a contestant on Britain’s Next Top Model, went head-to-head with journalist India Willoughby to discuss the high street giant’s decision – and things got heated.
While Talulah-Eve said she ‘completely’ understands why Topshop have decided to introduce gender neutral spaces because of her own experiences as a trans woman, India hailed the retailer ‘gender terrorists’.
Viewers took to Twitter in their droves to side with India, saying she was ‘speaking sense’ and that the ‘world had gone mad’ in light of the new changing room policy.
Topshop quietly changed its policy on men and women-only changing rooms, after growing pressure from transgender customers.
The change was brought to light by London-based performance artist and writer Travis Alabanza who tweeted Topshop to complain after being denied access to a female changing room at its Manchester store.
A follower named Reg then posted an email from Topshop from July, saying the store would be reviewing its changing room policy, and another email posted by Ferntree indicated the change has indeed occurred.
Sharing her own experiences, Talulah Eve explained: ‘I had experiences of pre-op when I was going into toilets in bars and being kicked out for using the female toilets so it causes anxiety and stress when you’re a pre-op trans woman.
‘So, I totally understand why pre-op women feel uncomfortable and understand why Topshop have done it.’
In response to her comments, India blasted: ‘With the greatest respect, Talulah, when you were in the toilets you were presenting as a woman.
‘This latest issue has come to light because somebody rocked up at their local Topshop with six-week stubble on their chin and demanded to be let in to the women’s changing room. That is a completely different ball game.’
Taking to Twitter ahead of appearing on the show, India described the decision as ‘dreadful’, writing: ‘These people are gender terrorists. Awful decision by TopShop – pandering to gobby nonsense. Most women will NOT want this’
One viewer said she would ‘boycott’ the store in light of the new changing room system, while another mother said she felt uncomfortable imagining her teenage daughter in a changing room with older men.
‘I think it’s a terrible idea! If my teenage daughter was in there with an older man, anything could happen! He could be a weirdo and expose himself?May be an extreme statement but with the way of the world it could happen!! Keep it separate!,’ wrote one.
Another added: ‘If they’re removing the changing rooms then surely they need to follow it through & remove the separate shops topshop/topman!’.
London-based performance artist and writer Travis Alabanza was reportedly denied access to a female changing room at Topshop earlier this week
The communication from Arcadia regarding the news read: ‘As part of our commitment to equal opportunities and non-discrimination, we felt our policy needed updating.
‘Though typically located in specific product areas such as Topshop or Topman, our fitting rooms are now available for all customers to use.
‘This has been communicated across the chain.’
A spokesperson for Topshop confirmed to MailOnline: ‘All TOPSHOP TOPMAN customers are free to use any of the fitting rooms located within our stores.’
Despite the change in policy, Travis was unable to access the female changing room at a store in Manchester earlier this week.
They tweeted Topshop to say that gender-specific changing rooms are ‘dated and dangerous’ and put ‘queer and trans shoppers at risk from harassment from other shoppers’.
‘Who made you in charge of deciding who is woman enough to use your changing room? You just lost an easy sale and money,’ they added.
Travis received an outpouring support from other Topshop customers who said they had also complained to the chain after being discriminated against.
In response to complaints from Travis’ Twitter followers, Topshop confirmed it has updated its policy on gendered changing rooms
However, not everyone agreed with the change of policy with one raising concerns that it could make Topshop’s target market – teenage girls – feel uncomfortable.
But Travis argued that Urban Outfitters is already successfully leading the way with changing rooms open to all genders.
And others argued that if retailers do not provide changing rooms specifically for transgender customers, then they must let them decide where they feel most comfortable trying on clothes.
Travis pointed out that Urban Outfitters has managed to successfully implement a gender neutral changing room policy