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A Sex Shop Was Fined for Selling a Chest Binder to a Trans Teen, Prompting Calls to Change ‘Outdated’ Bylaws

The Canadian bylaw, written 30 years ago, makes little sense in 2015.

by Manisha Krishnan
02 October 2015, 5:00am

A chest binder. Photo via Underworks.com

An Ottawa sex shop that was penalized for selling a chest binder to a trans teen has sparked calls for a review of the city's "outdated" adult entertainment bylaw.

Venus Envy on Bank Street was fined $260 [$196 USD] this week for selling a chest binder—an undergarment that compresses breasts to the chest—to a trans boy. It wouldn't be illegal but for the fact that Venus Envy is considered an adult entertainment store from which minors are banned.

Still, owner Shelley Taylor said plenty of teens come into the store, usually accompanied by parents.

"If youth come in and they're mature and respectful and they're buying something for their sexual health, we don't even stop to think of it," she told VICE, noting this is the first time the shop has been written up for this offense.

In light of backlash sparked by media reports, Taylor said the fine against Venus Envy has been waived.

The city is also looking to relax its rules around adult entertainment establishments.

"The bylaw was drafted 30 years ago at a time when corner stores were one of the few places where people could access erotica," Councillor Catherine McKenney told the Ottawa Citizen.

Taylor is hopeful the bylaw will be amended in council next spring. In the meantime, she's planning on pulling porn from her shelves. Without it, she said Venus Envy can be open to all ages.

Taylor believes hers is the only store in Ottawa that sells chest binders and gaffs—underwear for those undergoing MTF transitions.

"It's really affirming for them to have an appearance that aligns with that identity," she said.

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