Non-binary teen turned away from Monsoon's female changing rooms offered free prom dress as shop 'committed to inclusivity'

Charlie Moore, who identifies as non-binary, was shopping for a prom dress with their friend

Published

Monsoon has insisted the shop is "committed to inclusivity" and issued an apology after a non-binary teenager was stopped from using the female changing rooms while shopping for a prom dress.

Charlie Moore, 18, said they were left “humiliated” after being instructed to leave the retailer’s changing rooms while on a shopping trip in Birmingham with a friend.

They said they were told by managers that “males aren't allowed to try our clothes on” and that they had received complaints about their presence from women and children.

The store later issued an apology to the student, opened an investigation into the incident and offered to help Charlie find the “perfect prom dress” free of charge in a post on Twitter.

Monsoon store
Monsoon store
Charlie Moore
Charlie Moore

The incident comes after fresh guidance was released from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that states organisations can legally prevent, limit or modify trans people’s access to such a single-sex service, such as changing rooms, gyms and refuges in certain scenarios.

The EHRC said this could be to enable privacy or decency, to prevent trauma or to ensure health and safety.

The equalities watchdog added organisations must balance the impact on all service users and demonstrate “a sufficiently good reason”.

Charlie, who is looking to fund hormone therapy on GoFundMe, explained: "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 said five minutes later he was asked to move out of the changing rooms completely, while his friend, who is also non-binary, but as he described more "feminine-looking" was allowed to stay.

Charlie said to MailOnline that 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."

In a statement, Monsoon said: "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."