Marks & Spencer doubles down on support for trans customers after Tory peer’s false changing room claims

Marks & Spencer doubles down on support for trans customers

Marks & Spencer has confirmed its support for transgender shoppers after a Tory peer claimed the retailer had changed its policy on changing rooms.

Baroness Nicholson, the anti-trans peer who was dropped by the Booker Prize earlier this year amid a row about racism and homophobia, wrote a letter to M&S chairman Archie Norman on 7 December.

In the letter, Nicholson said she was “delighted to learn” that M&S changing room policy had “changed” and that “cubicles for trying on clothes before purchase will now be single sex”.

“I write to thank you for this most welcome of policy changes which properly reflects the needs of the population at large,” Nicholson wrote in a letter bearing the official House of Lords letterhead, which she later posted on Twitter.

But an M&S spokesperson told PinkNews that nothing has changed.

“The fitting rooms are located within our womenswear and menswear departments and therefore are mainly used by customers of that gender,” the spokesperson said. “However, in line with most other retailers we will generally allow people to use the fitting room which they prefer, with our colleagues exercising discretion and common sense.

“Our fitting rooms have been closed for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and currently remain closed. When open, they consist of individual lockable cubicles; and are managed by a colleague to provide assistance and to ensure customers’ privacy.”

The store apologised to a non-binary customer in February this year when an Marks & Spencer member of staff refused to allow them to try on clothes in the men’s changing room.

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said at the time that the store offers fitting rooms with individual lockable cubicles “to ensure every customer feels comfortable and has the privacy they need”. The retailer formally apologised for the “mistake” and the member of staff wrote an apology to the non-binary customer.

Marks & Spencer’s changing room policy became a focal point for anti-trans campaigners in November last year, after a customer, Jean Hatchet, said she was “outraged” at the retailer’s trans-inclusive changing rooms.

Hatchet claimed online that a friend of hers, who was at M&S with her 15-year-old daughter, had seen a man trying on women’s underwear in the changing rooms. She later clarified that her friend “had to queue up with a man clutching a load of bras”.

The retailer replied on Twitter and in a statement sent to The Independent by explaining that all of its fitting rooms have lockable cubicles designed to protect its customer’s privacy.

Baroness Nicholson has been contacted for comment.