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Non-binary teen left feeling 'unwanted' after being kicked out of Monsoon store

18-year-old Charlie Moore was shopping for a prom dress when a member of staff made them feel unwelcome.

2022-04-13

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Charlie Moore and Wiki

A non-binary teen has said they were left feeling "unwanted" after being kicked out of the changing rooms at the Monsoon store in Birmingham. 

Charlie Moore, 18, was shopping for a prom outfit with their partner, who is also non-binary, on Monday (11 April) when a member of staff told them to leave and that there were complaints from women with children. 

Speaking to The Metro Charlie said that "What happened made me feel very unwanted – like Monsoon didn’t want my business, which I suppose is true."

"It’s a shock to the system"

They told the paper that what happened was "humiliating".

"It takes a lot of courage for someone who is not traditionally feminine presenting to go to a store and try on dresses, for then to be told 'you’re not welcome'. It’s a shock to the system," they continue.

Going over what happened Charlie explained the changing rooms weren't labelled under any gender.

"I started to undress and then I heard this lady call for me outside 'excuse me, we don’t allow men in here, you’re going to have to wait outside'."

They say they got re-dressed and waited outside, not wanting any further embarrassment. However, the staff member then told Charlie they had to wait by the tills because "they had lots of complaints from women and children".

On Monday Charlie tweeted Monsoon asking what their policy was following their experience. 

Monsoon got in touch with Charlie on Tuesday (12 April) to apologise and explained that "our changing rooms are open and available to all our customers" and that an investigation into what happened has begun. 

The retailer also encouraged Charlie to come back in-store and get a free outfit.

"Everyone deserves to feel magical for prom so we hope this get [sic] your prom journey on the right foot again and hope you find something you love."

However, Charlie called the offer a "sympathy move" and said they're unlikely to return to the Birmingham store. 

"We are seeing transphobia everywhere at the moment," they say. "But this is the first time something like this has happened to me. I am pleased Monsoon have launched an investigation as we need to know if this is a single-employee issue or a store issue," they add

After contacting Charlie about the story on Wednesday (13 April) they shared the latest update from Monsoon with Attitude:

Monsoon told Charlie: "We would like to assure you that we will be following this up internally. As we hope you can understand any investigation with individual employees are private and confidential, however any action, where appropriate will be taken.

"Monsoon is committed to diversity and inclusivity and we want as many people as possible to enjoy our clothes and designs. At the same time, we also want to ensure that all our customers feel relaxed and comfortable when visiting our stores and trying on our outfits.

"The majority of our stores are small with limited changing facilities and as such we endeavour to work with all our customers; considering each of their individual requirements, with the aim of accommodating their needs and wishes."

We hope that you will again, feel confident in visiting out stores again in the future.

The UK Equalities watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recently published guidance saying providers can deny access to services and spaces deemed single-sex for "legitimate aims" and where the action taken to limit access is "proportionate".  

*** UPDATE***

A spokesperson from Monsoon told Attitude: "Monsoon is committed to diversity and inclusivity and we want as many people as possible to enjoy our clothes and designs. At the same time, we also want to ensure that all our customers feel relaxed and comfortable when visiting our stores and trying on our outfits.

"The majority of our stores are small with limited changing facilities and as such we endeavour to work with all our customers; considering each of their individual requirements, with the aim of accommodating their needs and wishes."

The Attitude May/June issue featuring the cast of Heartstopper is out now.