ABC’s hidden camera show What Would You Do? sets up socially charged situations hoping to capture responses from unsuspecting members of the public. This week, the moral quandary involved a trans woman being attacked by a sales person in a women’s clothing boutique—and the results were quite heartening.
In a shop in Ramsay, New Jersey, an actress posing as a clerk consistently misgenders a transgender customer (also an actress), loudly calling her “a drag queen or a transvestite or something, right?”
“Could you just take the dress off?” the salesgirl asks. “I don’t want you ripping it and no one else is going to want to wear it after you.”
Transgender Americans can frequently face discrimination, shame and even harassment in public spaces, but in this instance, several other customers (all cis women) were horrified and stood up to bigotry.
“That’s not what this town or what this store is about!” one woman says. Another reminds the saleswoman “It’s 2017!” The last customer even gives the customers a hug and asks if they can continue to shop together.
Every one of these is respectful, complimentary, and even protective of a complete stranger. Interviewed by host John Quiñones later, they share that harassing people for being who they are is not acceptable—and they have no qualms about shutting down anyone who believes otherwise.
It’s not the first time What Would You Do has tested people’s acceptance of the transgender community: In a 2013 episode, Carmen Carrera appeared as a waitress in a diner confronted by a customer outraged that his server is transgender. As in this episode, other customers (including some cis men) stood up for Carrera.