A TRANS* advocacy group has criticised supermarket giant Woolworths for its handling of an incident that saw an employee laugh at a young trans* customer last week.

A 19-year-old trans man was reportedly left disgusted after he attempted to buy cigarettes at the Figtree Woolworths — located in Wollongong — where one of the cashiers laughed at him for not resembling his driver’s licence photo, which was taken before his gender transition.

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The 19-year-old has been transitioning from female to male for the past 10 months, and said he did not want anyone to know about it yet.

According to Fairfax Media, the Woolworths cashier did not believe the 19-year-old after she asked for identification for the cigarette purchase.

“She looked at me funny, and said it wasn’t me in the photo,” the 19-year-old told Fairfax.

“I’ve got a bit of facial hair from testosterone I’m taking, and in my photo I haven’t got any. She laughed in my face when I told her my situation.”

He also reportedly showed the cashier other forms of identification, to which she “burst out laughing” and that nearly 20 people around them heard their exchange.

“She may have thought I didn’t look like my licence, but it was uncalled for to laugh,” he said.

“She was so loud everyone turned around. I was so embarrassed.”

The trans man highlighted that he regularly used his licence to buy cigarettes and enter nightclubs without any drama, and following the incident at Woolworths he was able to buy his cigarettes from another store without any hassle.

He also said he has been out of work after losing a childcare traineeship and lack of proper income meant he could not afford to update his identification.

A spokesperson from the Sydney-based trans* advocacy group Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust (CRMT) said the incident was a “prime example of the kind of derision and discrimination many trans* and gender diverse people continue to experience on a regular basis”.

In a statement, a Woolworths spokesperson defended the cashier’s actions.

“As the staff member was unable to satisfactorily verify the age of the customer the sale was refused,” the spokesperson said.

“Our understanding is the customer did not explain their situation… the customer has made contact with us and we will discuss it directly with them.”

CRMT said Woolworths’ response was “inadequate” and “deeply perplexing”.

“What Woolworths’ management need to ask themselves is this – how is it that other Australians are free to grow a little facial hair or change their hair style without obtaining new photo ID in order to purchase good from their stores, but trans* people are not?” the CRMT spokesperson said.

“In that context this seems like a highly arbitrary policy that discriminates specifically against transgender people.

“It’s clearly incumbent upon Woolworths and major other employers to implement more effective strategies and policies to ensure their staff are aware this kind of discrimination is neither socially nor legally acceptable.

“That as good corporate citizens, Woolworths and its staff have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to respect both the legal rights and human dignity of all trans* and gender-diverse people.”

H/T Sydney Morning Herald

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