A transgender man has spoken about his shock after a Tesco store refused to serve him tobacco because they didn’t believe his female ID belonged to him.
Charlie Diesel, 19, said he was “insulted” after the the manager of the Bedford shop turned him away because “the passport presented was that of a female and I was presenting myself as a male”.
He was initially denied service by staff with “no explanation”, but when he returned with a friend and spoke to the manager, Charlie discovered the gender on his passport was the reason they would not sell him the tobacco.
Charlie told the Bedfordshire on Sunday: “It just felt so insulting, this has never happened to me before.
“I have been through border control four times with this passport and never had an issue, but after this it occurred to me this may be happening to lots of people so I had to speak out,” he added.
“In this day and age, when the transgender community are not hiding themselves, people just cannot be allowed to discriminate.”
Charlie was offered a £20 gift voucher as a good-will gesture, but refused to accept it on principle.
Laurence Webb, Pride in Practice Coordinator at the LGBT Foundation, said: “One of the key things to remember about ID for transgender people is that it can be really expensive to change your ID and research tells us that trans people are a highly under-employed and often unemployed group. Many people don’t realise that you can do a deed poll for free.
“When you change your name by deed poll, it means you can change your name and gender on your ID, but not that you must.”
Laurence also had advice for people who work in customer-facing roles. “The important thing for staff to remember is that trans people do exist and not everybody ages and lives their life in the same way.
“There are a number of reasons why people might not look like their photo on their ID. The expert on who that person is the person themselves.”
A Tesco spokesperson said: “Everyone is welcome at Tesco and it is never our intention to cause any offence. We have a ‘Think 25 policy’ and our customer was not served alcohol as they appeared different to their photo ID.
“Colleagues at the store approached the situation sensitively and met with Charlie after the incident to discuss the issue.”
For more information on ID for transgender people, visit the LGBT Foundation website or call 03453303030.