Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Marks & Spencer has been forced to apologise after an over-zealous staff member refused to let a young woman use the ladies toilet because they thought she was a man. 

Tay Beales, 22, accused the retail giant of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and those with hidden disabilities, after the epilepsy sufferer was also denied entry into the disabled facilities. 

She said she was left ’embarrassed’ and ‘humiliated’ by the ordeal, adding that all she wanted to do was go to the toilet. 

M&S has since apologised to Ms Beales and said it has a ‘zero tolerance approach to discrimination’ across its stores.

Ms Beales, from Exeter, Devon, was out shopping with her girlfriend Freya Baldwinson, 26, on Tuesday, when she claims the pair needed to go to the bathroom.

Ms Beales went to use the disabled toilets but claims an M&S staff member at the Exeter store stepped in and told her: ‘You’re not disabled’, before ordering her to use the male bathrooms.

She claims she walked into the facilities to find a man ‘with his genitals out’ – before she exited and rushed into the women’s toilets.

But as she waited for a cubicle, she claims the same member of staff was convinced she was ‘a boy’ so refused to let her use the ladies and told her to use the disabled loos – before calling her ‘him’ to a member of the public.

Ms Beales said: ‘This is an example of homophobia as well as disability discrimination. She clearly had a problem with everything as she kept ushering me to different toilets. 

Tay Beales (pictured), 22, accused the M&S of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and those with hidden disabilities, after the epilepsy sufferer was denied entry into both the disabled and women's toilets

Tay Beales (pictured), 22, accused the M&S of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and those with hidden disabilities, after the epilepsy sufferer was denied entry into both the disabled and women's toilets

Tay Beales (pictured), 22, accused the M&S of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and those with hidden disabilities, after the epilepsy sufferer was denied entry into both the disabled and women’s toilets 

Ms Beales, from Exeter, Devon, was out shopping with her girlfriend Freya Baldwinson (pictured together), 26, on Tuesday, when she claims the pair needed to go to the bathroom.

Ms Beales, from Exeter, Devon, was out shopping with her girlfriend Freya Baldwinson (pictured together), 26, on Tuesday, when she claims the pair needed to go to the bathroom.

Ms Beales, from Exeter, Devon, was out shopping with her girlfriend Freya Baldwinson (pictured together), 26, on Tuesday, when she claims the pair needed to go to the bathroom.

The incident unfolded at the M&S store in Exeter, Devon (pictured)

The incident unfolded at the M&S store in Exeter, Devon (pictured)

The incident unfolded at the M&S store in Exeter, Devon (pictured)

‘I’ve been misgendered before but it wasn’t malicious. This lady was completely rude, it was the way she was ushering me from one place to the other.

‘It’s embarrassing and humiliating. There are five toilets in use in the women’s toilets so everyone could hear it as well.

‘I just want to spread awareness for people with hidden disabilities and LGBTQ community because we shouldn’t be treated differently.

‘I want people to be aware of it and help people in the future.’

The couple were browsing in the home section when they stopped by the toilets. 

It was then the incident occurred, which Ms Beales said left her feeling ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘cr**py’.

Ms Beales said: ‘Me and my girlfriend went into M&S to look at the home stuff because we’re looking to move. My girlfriend needed the toilet so I thought I might as well go with her.

Ms Beales said: 'This is an example of homophobia as well as disability discrimination. She clearly had a problem with everything as she kept ushering me to different toilets.'

Ms Beales said: 'This is an example of homophobia as well as disability discrimination. She clearly had a problem with everything as she kept ushering me to different toilets.'

Ms Beales said: ‘This is an example of homophobia as well as disability discrimination. She clearly had a problem with everything as she kept ushering me to different toilets.’

‘I went to open the disabled toilet door and the member of staff said ‘no, you can’t go in there, you’re not disabled’.

‘My girlfriend waited because she heard I couldn’t go in. I went to say ‘it says on your door, ‘not every disability is visible’.

‘Before I got the chance, she was ushering me into another toilet. I opened the door and there was a man taking a pee in the urinals with his genitals out.

‘I felt uncomfortable because that’s not the right toilet for me. I went to open the door of the women’s and the lady who told me to go in [the men’s] was in there.

‘She was like ‘no, no, you can’t go in here, use the disabled toilet’.

‘Even after I’d corrected her [saying] ‘I’m a girl’, I had to go back and use the disabled toilet. It was so contradicting.

‘I felt really embarrassed and my girlfriend probably did because she had to stick up for me.

‘It feels a bit cr**py to know I can’t go in that toilet, or another one, or another. All I needed was the toilet.’

As Ms Beales left the toilets, she claims she heard the female shop worker discussing her gender identity with another customer – before accusing her of ‘lying’ about her disability.

The shaken pair then went to complain in store, but Ms Beales claims they still hadn’t received a call from management as of Wednesday evening.

She said: ‘She was determined I was a boy. The lady was having a conversation with a customer who said ‘I can’t believe you let the boy use the ladies toilet’.

As Ms Beales left the toilets, she claims she heard the female shop worker discussing her gender identity with another customer - before accusing her of 'lying' about her disability.

As Ms Beales left the toilets, she claims she heard the female shop worker discussing her gender identity with another customer - before accusing her of 'lying' about her disability.

As Ms Beales left the toilets, she claims she heard the female shop worker discussing her gender identity with another customer – before accusing her of ‘lying’ about her disability.

‘The worker replied ‘no, he wasn’t. I told him he couldn’t. That’s why I sent him to the disabled toilet’. Then she said ‘he lied about having a disability’.

‘After it happened, my girlfriend said it was totally unacceptable and really rude. 

‘After she came out of the toilet, she said to the woman worker ‘that’s my girlfriend, she is a girl and she’s not lying about having a disability’.

‘It completely went straight over her head. We went down and complained.

‘We spoke to a member of staff who said he didn’t know how to deal with this so he was going to get another member of staff.

‘This was in the middle of the shop floor, so I had to explain it once to him, then again while people were shopping right next to tills.

‘He said ‘sorry, is there anything else we can do?’ We said we weren’t happy about it and would be writing a formal complaint to head office.

‘We sent a formal complaint to the CEO and haven’t heard anything from the store.’

An M&S spokesperson said: ‘We have a zero tolerance approach to discrimination across M&S and we always work to ensure that our stores are welcoming for everyone.

‘We are very sorry that Tay’s experience did not meet the high standards of customer service that we set for ourselves, and for the upset that this caused. 

‘We have spoken today with Tay to apologise directly and she has accepted a gesture of apology.’

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