Monsoon apologises after stopping non-binary teen from trying on prom dresses

Side-by-side of a Monsoon storefront and Charlie Moore

Fashion retailer Monsoon has apologised to a non-binary shopper after a staff member stopped them from trying on prom dresses in a fitting room.

Charlie Moore, 18, was asked to leave a changing cubicle by a staff member at a Monsoon in Grand Central, Birmingham.

The British retailer has since said it wants to help 18-year-old Charlie Moore “find the perfect prom dress” and launched an investigation into the incident.

It was a move praised by trans activists, fearful of more trans people being discriminated against after Britain’s so-called “equalities” watchdog issued guidance to single-sex service providers.

When the sixth form pupil entered the unisex changing rooms, a Monsoon staff member reportedly told her to get out as “the store did not allow men in there”.

Humiliated, the employee told Moore “they were getting complaints from women with children”.

Tagging Monsoon on Twitter, Moore wrote on Monday: “Hi @MonsoonUK, Just been into your Bham store to try on a couple prom dresses but was told I wasn’t allowed to because of my gender assigned at birth.”

“You know, 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’,” Moore, who is raising money for her gender-affirming healthcare, told

“It’s a shock to the system.”

Moore had been shopping with their partner, who is also non-binary, at the time before the worker blocked her from getting changed.

In its alarming advice, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission gave what legal experts told PinkNews amounted to a blueprint for single-sex service providers to “blanket ban” trans people from spaces such as gyms, community centres and public washrooms.

Though Monsoon has previously said it no longer answers customer messages on social media, the company issued a public apology to Moore on Twitter.

Asking them to email Monsoon’s customer service team, the retailer said: “If you would feel comfortable to do so, we would like to welcome you back into our store where we would be happy to help you find your perfect prom dress, it’s on us.

“Everyone deserves to feel magical for prom so we hope this gets your prom journey on the right foot again and hope you find something you love.”

To TransActual, a trans-led not-for-profit, captures just how “bad all-round” it is to be trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming in Britain today.

Only days before the British government stripped trans people from its long-promised conversion therapy ban, the EHRC seemingly invited single-sex service providers to discriminate against trans people.

Both were the latest salvos against a community that already faces fire from seemingly all sides, whether it be obsessive vitriol from the right-wing press, rising anti-trans hate crimes or lawmakers binning life-saving reforms.

 A shopper carries bags outside a Monsoon on King's Road in Chelsea

To trans activists, Monsoon’s response is one other businesses should follow as discrimination lurks ahead. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

But to TransActual director jane fae, Monsoon’s sincere response to a non-binary person being barred from a changing room is an example other businesses can follow when it comes to serving trans and non-binary customers.

“It is good that Monsoon has recognised that the [EHRC’s] guidance is not in any sense real guidance,” fae explained. “Any store attempting to act upon it is breaking the law.”

The writer added that TransActual is going to send a “little present, such as a mug” to the store “as a thank you for respecting our rights”.

In the fallout of the EHRC’s rattling guidance, the group is bracing for more experiences of discrimination similar to Moore. Activists are drafting online guidance for people who want to take “rapid action against what is happening”.

“We’re going to be out there providing the guidance people will need to respond legally, lawfully, quickly,” fae said.

“Clearly, what the government is doing is not terribly thoughtful. We’re going to advise people to take legal action. We’re going to put our money where our mouth is.”