A non-binary teenager says they were left “humiliated” after being told to leave a Monsoon changing room while trying on a prom dress.
Charlie had been out shopping with a friend when the alleged incident, which is now under investigation, took place at the Birmingham store on Monday, April 11.
The 18-year-old student claims that after picking up a dress, they headed into the dressing room, where a member of staff informed them that “males aren’t allowed to try our clothes on”.
They told BirminghamLive : “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.”
But Charlie said, five minutes later, the same member of staff told them to move out of the changing room altogether.
Charlie’s friend, who doesn’t identify as female but presents “in a more feminine way”, was allowed to try on the dresses without any issues, they said.
Charlie, who is studying A Levels at a sixth form in Birmingham, said the store was the first where they found any suitable dresses for the summer prom, which is being held at Edgbaston Park Hotel.
But feeling hurt, unwelcome and embarrassed, the pair decided to leave the store and even cut their shopping trip short, ditching plans to head to Selfridges.
Charlie said they were previously made to feel welcome when trying on skirts at stores like Primark and H&M.
The sixth former, who realised their ‘mind and body didn’t align’ in primary school, is currently raising £1,200 funds for gender affirmation hormone therapy via GoFundMe .
“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,” they continued.
“So to be told A) no and b) 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’. It sparked a huge ‘Twitter storm’, receiving more than 400 retweets and prompting over 2,000 replies within less than 24 hours.
Monsoon apologised, opened an investigation and offered to help Charlie find their “perfect prom dress” free of charge.
A spokesperson for the chain 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.
“We’d like to explore this further with you so please could you email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can find out more of your experience? 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.”
BirminghamLive has contacted Monsoon for a statement.
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