A bank has apologised for blocking a transgender woman’s account and calling in the fraud protection team because she “sounded like a man”.
Mature student Hazel Bishop, aged 34, was left “humiliated” by Santander staff on two separate occasions – and the company has admitted it did not handle the situation sensitively.
On May 3 Ms Bishop went into the bank’s Exeter branch to withdraw some cash and upgrade from a current account to a student account.
She says a staff member queried her ID, which was still in her former name of Tim Bishop.
“Throughout this she was calling me ‘Sir’,” Ms Bishop said.”I repeatedly stopped her to say ‘No, it’s madam, I am a transwoman.’
“It was humiliating. They scanned my old driving licence and said I would need to bring in my deed of name change to change the account.
“They completely ignored what I was saying to them.
“I was so embarrassed and humiliated, I was literally in tears leaving the branch.”
Yesterday Ms Bishop visited a branch in Armada Way, Plymouth, to resolve the dispute.
She tried to use the phone banking system, but call centre staff called in their fraud protection team, saying her voice did not match the name on the account.
“They put a block on my account because I sounded like a man,” Ms Bishop said.
“I spent two-and-a-half hours in the branch and I was fobbed off left, right and centre.”
After her “humiliating” experience, Ms Bishop says she submitted a formal complaint.
“They don’t seem to understand the Equality Act and how to treat trans customers,” she said.
“I have quite a high-pitched voice, I don’t exactly sound like Barry White.”
Ms Bishop has received an apology and £300 from the bank.
A Santander spokeswoman said: “We have apologised to our customer Ms Bishop for the treatment she received in our Exeter branch.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t handle her query sensitively and our customer was understandably upset by this.
“We have provided feedback to the member of staff involved.
“Once we were able to verify Ms Bishop’s identity correctly, we unblocked her account immediately.
“Ms Bishop has accepted a goodwill gesture by way of apology.”