Real move for inclusion; or mall-versus-mall PR effort targeting the pink peso?
Months after Araneta Center’s Farmers Plaza in Cubao, Quezon City figured in a much-hyped controversy for refusing to allow a transgender woman to use a toilet befitting her gender identity, SM Supermalls announced that it will begin to install all-gender restrooms in its malls starting this November.
The move will be first done in malls in Metro Manila, including SM Mall of Asia, SM City North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Aura Premier and The Podium; as well as at SM Seaside City Cebu.
The move, according to a statement released by the giant company, is a “leap towards a more gender-inclusive community”, as SM Supermalls aims to “continue to provide a safe community space that advocates inclusivity, equality, and respect for all regardless of gender expression, identity, or sexual orientation.”
“With inclusivity and innovation at the core of everything we do, we endeavor to create spaces where all shoppers are welcome,” SM Supermalls COO Steven Tan was quoted as saying.
The all-gender restroom will be a new facility in addition to the male, female, and PWD restrooms in these malls.
The effort may be commendable, but SM Supermalls is not always on the side of what’s right. In 2015, for instance, its establishment in Baguio City, SM Baguio, cut 60 trees surrounding the mall for its expansion, including to build additional parking.
SM Supermalls is also infamous for practicing contractualization – i.e. not regularizing its employees, thus failing to give many security of tenure and benefits.