Monsoon's female changing rooms are 'open to BOTH sexes'

Monsoon’s female changing rooms are ‘open to BOTH sexes’: Fashion store apologises and offers to ‘welcome’ male-born ‘non-binary’ teen, 18, who complained about being blocked from women’s fitting room to try on dress

  • Charlie Moore, 18, who uses they/them pronouns was shopping in Birmingham
  • While in fitting rooms, they were told ‘males aren’t allowed to try our clothes on’
  • The A Level student was then told to leave the female changing rooms altogether
  • Monsoon apologised and said changing rooms are ‘available to all customers’
  • They opened investigation and offered to help Charlie find dress ‘free of charge’
  • Non-binary genders are not currently recognised in UK law and the Gender Recognition Act makes ‘no provision for the recognition of any other gender’

Monsoon says its female changing rooms are ‘open to both sexes’ after a teenager who identifies as ‘non-binary’ was left ‘humiliated’ when they were blocked from the women’s fitting room to try on a prom dress. 

Charlie Moore, 18, who uses they/them pronouns, had been shopping for an outfit with a friend at the retailer’s Grand Central store in Birmingham on Monday afternoon.

The student said that following ‘complaints from women with children’ a member of staff told them ‘males aren’t allowed to try our clothes on’, before telling them to leave the female changing rooms.

Monsoon later apologised, saying its changing rooms are ‘open and available to all customers’. The company also opened an investigation and offered to help Charlie find their ‘perfect prom dress’ free of charge.

A Monsoon spokesman today told MailOnline it aimed to accommodate the needs and wishes of ‘all our customers’.

The incident comes amid the government’s plans to exclude transgender people from a ban on conversion therapy – which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress their gender identity.

Non-binary genders – which the government defines as ‘someone who identifies as in some way outside of the man-woman gender binary’ – are currently not recognised in UK law.

The Gender Recognition Act enables a person to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate, either from male to female or vice versa, but it makes ‘no provision for the recognition of any other gender’.

‘Non-binary’ teenager Charlie Moore, 18, (pictured), who uses they/them pronouns, had been shopping for an outfit with a friend at the fashion retailer’s Grand Central store in Birmingham on Monday afternoon and told ‘males aren’t allowed to try our clothes on’

Monsoon later apologised, opened an investigation and offered to help Charlie find their ‘perfect prom dress’ free of charge 

Charlie said they were shopping with their friend who ‘does not identify as female’ but presents ‘in a more feminine way’.

Charlie said: ‘We picked up some dresses and went into the changing rooms’ individual cubicles. There’s only one area, it’s not labelled.

‘We each went into a cubicle and then as I was putting it on, this voice, which turned out to be a staff member from outside, said: ‘Excuse me, males aren’t allowed to try our clothes on’.

‘I was set back by that, but not wanting to grossly embarrass myself or draw attention, I complied.

‘She said: ‘Can you wait outside for your friend?’. I waited on a bench outside the cubicle.’

Charlie, who is studying A Levels at a sixth form in Birmingham, said about five minutes later the same member of staff told them to move out of the changing room altogether, but their friend was allowed to try on the dresses ‘without any issues’, they added.

Charlie said the incident left them feeling ‘like I wasn’t welcome or wanted’.

They added: ‘It would be daft to assume it doesn’t take a person any amount of courage to walk into a shop like that and try on a dress if they are typically male-aligning.

‘So to be told no you’re not welcome here, that’s a lot of built-up courage that is immediately knocked down.

‘Also, it’s very embarrassing. I felt humiliated and like I wasn’t welcome or wanted.

‘It feels very hurtful and wrong. They need to be open about whether it was that member of staff or if it is company policy.

‘If it is store policy, I think questions should be raised around whether that policy is compliant in the 21st century.’

The teenager later shared part of their experience to Twitter, politely asking whether the incident had happened as part of ‘store policy’. 

Monsoon replied: ‘Hi Charlie, we’re sorry to hear of the experience you had in one of our stores. Our fitting rooms are open and available to all our customers and we have opened an investigation into this incident.’

 

 

In a follow up response, Monsoon added: ‘If you would be 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, and it’s on us.

‘Everyone deserves to feel magical for prom so we hope this get your prom journey on the right foot again and hope you find something you love. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Many thanks Monsoon.’

A Monsoon spokesman told MailOnline the member of staff at the Birmingham store had ‘not done anything wrong’ when they told Charlie to leave the changing rooms.

In a statement, the spokesman added: ‘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.’ 

Charlie said the incident left them and their friend feeling ‘hurt, unwelcome and embarrassed’ and they chose to cut short their shopping trip.  

The sixth former, who realised their ‘mind and body didn’t align’ in primary school, is currently raising £1,200 for gender affirmation hormone therapy via GoFundMe.

The government is pushing ahead with a ban on conversion therapy – which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress their gender identity – for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.

However, ministers are ready to exclude trans people – including those identifying as ‘non-binary’ – from the ban on conversion therapy in favour of a ‘more sensitive approach’.

Conversion therapy can, in extreme forms, include physical violence and torturous practices.

The government’s new position has led to a backlash among some Tory MPs, with the Prime Minister now facing warnings that he could yet be forced to toughen up the conversion therapy ban and include transgender people. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said ‘all conversion therapy in all its forms is wrong’ and said the government ‘should keep to its promises’ on the issue.

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