Transsexual woman accuses Post Office of discrimination

Upset: Fiona Stewart, who said she was unable to open a savings account at the Post Office
Upset: Fiona Stewart, who said she was unable to open a savings account at the Post Office
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A transsexual woman has accused the Post Office of discrimination after she was unable to open a savings account.

Fiona Stewart, 62, changed her name from Stewart Emmett in 2008 and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2009.

She later underwent surgery to become a woman and is on a course of hormone therapy.

But the retired writer said she could not open a Post Office Instant Saver scheme, despite having an existing current account, because staff would not accept her new proof of identity.

Fiona deposited £590.90 at a branch near her home in Thornton Cleveleys, Wyre.

She then received a letter from the Post Office, which said the money had been paid into a holding account, because it was unable to confirm her identity or address through its electronic checks.

The letter said she needed to produce two official documents, one of which must be a passport, national identity card, driving licence, DWP or benefits agency letter or a tax coding notice.

Fiona took her Wyre Council tax coding notice, NHS medical card, Gender Recognition Certificate and Lancashire County Council bus pass to the Post Office in Market Street, Lancaster.

But a member of staff said she needed a passport or driving licence, which she said led to an argument with the branch manager.

She said: “The whole idea is I’m living a new life where my male persona is over and done with.

“I’m no longer Stewart and I can’t provide old details. I haven’t got a driving licence and my passport is in my old name.

“I said ‘I’ve given you what you need’. I provided more than what they required.

“The law on sex change is that we’re supposed to be accepted.

“I said ‘you’re discriminating against me’.”

Fiona said she was unable to reclaim the deposit and was concerned £100, a cheque for hospital travel expenses, could now be lost.

She said: “They told me to ring a number, and on the phone when I was trying to explain I had to say I was a transsexual.

“The moment I say it my whole confidence and belief in being Fiona disappears.”

The Post Office apologised for “any concerns the customer may have regarding the opening of this savings account”.

However, a spokesman said: “The Post Office must comply with anti-money laundering regulations which specify that customers’ must provide proof of ID such as a valid passport or photo card driving licence when opening a savings account.

“We have fully investigated this matter and although we can understand that this matter has caused the customer some distress and inconvenience, we must comply with these regulations and are very sorry that we could not assist further on this occasion.”