My daughter was obsessed with tween clothing mecca Justice for a good three years when she was in elementary school. And while a lot of my mom-friends complained about the sparkly, trendy clothes and the Hits 1 pop music blasting from the in-store speakers, I was always a fan. They carried everything from socks to winter coats, which made shopping with a fickle tween girl a one-stop piece of cake, plus they offered an endless array of coupons and bonus points which always made me feel like I was getting a deal on my kid's total haul.
Now they've done something even more incredible: They made one mom's 10-year-old gender-non-conforming son's dreams come true. And her heartwarming story—which she shared via an open letter to the retailer on Facebook—has quickly gone viral.
"Dear Justice," wrote Martie Todd Sirois, who blogs at Gender Creative Life. "This weekend you made a little boy's dreams come true."
Martie then went on to explain how her son has been wanting to shop in the store since he was 4, after years of tagging along with his big sister. In fact, every time the pair made a trip to Target—located right next door to Justice—he would stare longingly through the windows and say, "I wish I could shop there."
"We never went in," Martie explained. "There was just something off-putting about those words on your window, reading, Just for Girls that kept us away time and time again."
But Martie and her husband have been on a journey to understand their son's gender non-conformity—"He may one day be LGBTQ+. He may not. We're open to whatever, as long as he's happy," she wrote—and so this year, they planned to finally give him that Justice shopping spree. Or at least they did until March 23, when HB2—a regulation that would ban transgender people from using public restrooms, showers, locker rooms, and changing facilities that aligned with their gender identity—became North Carolina law. Martie was devastated.
"Instead of going to Justice that day, I ended up glued to my laptop, trying to understand what to make of this new, horrific anti-trans, excruciatingly discriminatory law based on hyped up fears over a 'potential' crime that has never actually happened," Marie wrote. "I wondered what this meant for my son's future, especially if he ends up transitioning to female."
In the meantime, summer came and went, and when back-to-school shopping season hit once again, Martie mentioned her son's Justice dream in a support group she leads for parents of gender non-conforming and trans children. One of the other moms in the group quickly jumped in to take the reigns.
"She physically went to your store, spoke to the store manager on duty, and asked questions from, 'Would you let a boy try on clothes here?' to 'What would you do if another customer made rude comments to a little boy looking at or trying on clothes here?'," Martie recounts. "The store manager assured her that 'everyone is welcome at Justice', and any rudeness or discrimination from fellow customers would not be tolerated."
"It was then a done deal," Martie said. "We were going shopping."
The big event took place last Friday night. "My son's eyes were huge and overwhelmed with possibilities," Martie recalled. "The Justice store manager came right over to greet us, didn't bat an eyelash, and basically took on the role of my son's personal shopper for the evening. We went to the changing room, and my son couldn't get those clothes on fast enough. Once that first outfit was on, he posed and admired himself in the mirror, spun around in circles to see the skirt poof out, and studied himself from all angles in every possible combination of outfits. It was pure joy. This ― in stark contrast to how he tries on "boys" clothing in other stores, when he won't even put an outfit all the way on or refuses to try on at all. My son dropped his usual shopping doom and gloom look and suddenly sprang to life in these clothes. He even encouraged me to take pictures of him in the different outfits. There was no denying he became a different, more confident and happier child when wearing pretty things."
Abosultely amazing!!! And that's not all—Martie says she was "blown away" by the Justice manager who stayed well-past her shift's end, just to continue working with them. "She made my son feel beautiful and totally free of judgment," she explained. "I want to thank her for that precious, precious gift. I felt so much hope for the future."
The pair left the store two hours later with two full bags, and Martie snapped a picture of her son standing in front of that "Just for girls" store window he had spent so many years staring through. Only this time he was beaming and clutching his bags of new clothes.
"Please look at his smile," Martie wrote. "This is as genuine as it gets."
Way to go, Justice!