Employees slam ‘inclusive’ bookstore that reported trans workers to police

At left, The Moon bookstore in Singapore’s Chinatown in an undated photo. At right, one of its employees who said was fired in an Instagram story posted Sunday. Images: The Moon, Gorba10ko/Instagram
At left, The Moon bookstore in Singapore’s Chinatown in an undated photo. At right, one of its employees who said was fired in an Instagram story posted Sunday. Images: The Moon, Gorba10ko/Instagram

Indie bookstore The Moon yesterday denied accusations of transphobia after it reported three transgender employees to the police.

The bookstore, which markets itself as inclusive and LGBT-friendly, defended its reputation after coming under fire for filing vandalism reports against three now-former employees and coming under fire for how it treats its staff.

“It has come to my attention that serious allegations have been made against The Moon, calling the space transphobic, and claiming that transgender members of our staff have been discriminated against. This is false,” owner Sarah Naeem wrote online.

 

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A post shared by The Moon (@themoonsg)

Naeem earlier this month filed police complaints against then-employees Levi Miller Mak and Vic Gorbatenko as well as a former employee identified only as “Cayes” for vandalism. In her post, Naeem said they had posted “damaging materials” around the store in November. She said the trio had been the source of complaints for their language, leaving the store unattended, and bullying colleagues. 

The bookstore said it does not intend to press charges but called the cops to “protect” its staff, customers and premises. 

The bookstore’s drama first came to wide attention last week when all three former employees said they were under police investigations. They called out the bookstore out for not being a “feminist business.” 

Mak, Gorbatenko and Cayes have not responded to messages seeking comment since Tuesday.

“‘Inclusive” and ‘feminist’ aren’t marketing buzzwords they’re representative of actual fucking praxis. [I]ntersectionality extends beyond the axes of oppression that victimize you,” Gorbatenko wrote Monday.

In another post, Gorbatenko said the “vandalism” described by Naeem consisted of posting photos in primarily staff areas with pro-trans captions such as “maybe transphobia will rest now.”

Since it opened in 2017, the bookstore has sold a diverse selection of books by writers of color and different genders.

In one of many Instagram posts, Gorbatenko said they were reported to the police for “trespassing” at the store and “stealing” a former colleague’s item a week after they were fired for “not adhering to service standards.” Gorbatenko said Naeem was present at the time and allowed Gorbatenko into the store to retrieve the item. Mak and Cayes quit last month.

One of Gorbatenko's Instagram stories posted Sunday. Photo: Gorba10ko/Instagram
One of Gorbatenko’s Instagram stories posted Sunday. Photo: Gorba10ko/Instagram

This prompted other former employees to speak up and call the bookstore a “toxic space” where workers with mistreated, with one alleging that Naeem spied on workers through surveillance cameras.

Naeem said she would be opening a channel on their website to encourage discussion.

“We believe that we should lead by example as a space that is open to feedback and continued improvement. With this in mind, we are opening a channel on our website to facilitate ongoing discourse,” she wrote.

Ed. Note: While every attempt was made to properly gender those involved in this story, several references to Gorbatenko incorrectly referred to them as him. We regret the error.

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