London: Trans woman told to use New Look changing facilities ‘out of hours’

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Fashion chain New Look has responded to allegations that a trans woman was refused use of their changing rooms at a store in Brixton, south London.

The woman reportedly tried to use a changing room, but was stopped by staff who said they “didn’t have any for men”.

After having to explain that she was transgender she was eventually permitted to use the facility, but a staff member waited outside the room while she changed.

Following the incident she contacted the store, and reports she was told: “New Look welcome trans-gendered customers [sic]. In stores which have regular trans-gendered customers, store management are encouraged to make regular appointments to open earlier or later to allow customers to have full access to the fitting rooms.”

New Look has responded clarifying that the policy of arranging out-of-hours appointments for transgender customers should only be an option, rather than a rule.

They said: “Everyone – absolutely everyone, regardless of age, size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender – is welcome to shop at New Look.

“Some of our stores do allow certain groups (for example Muslim women or transgender customers) to make out-of-hours shopping appointments to safeguard their privacy. But, as New Look aims to be as inclusive as possible, the brand doesn’t operate a corporate policy unique to transgender customers. We want them to feel every bit as welcome and valued as all other New Look customers.

“We are truly sorry if there’s been any incident when a transgender customer has been made to feel uncomfortable while shopping with us. Without singling out any one group for positive discrimination, we’re doing all we can to be as inclusive as possible.”

The use of facilities appropriate to a person’s gender identity is protected in the UK by the Equality Act.

US states are also starting to protect trans peoples’ use of facilities, with California becoming the most recent to consider legislating on this right.