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Starbucks pro-trans ad airs, but employees criticize company
2020-02-11

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Starbucks UK released an ad showing a young trans man getting to use his chosen name while getting a coffee—but the ad has been criticized as well, BuzzFeed reported.

While many have lauded the ad, transgender Starbucks employees said the company's publicly aired values don't necessarily align with how they are treated. Current and former employees said they have been deadnamed and have difficulties accessing gender-affirming medical treatment under the coffee giant's insurance policies.

One such worker is Tucker Jace Webb, who said he was deadnamed and outed during his time at a Starbucks in Denton, Texas; more incidents allegedly happened at another location.

Windy City Times received word that one former employee of Starbucks, California resident Maddie Wade, is suing the chain for harassment and discrimination while she was undergoing hormone-replacement therapy. Arnold Peter, Wade's attorney, said in a statement sent to the publication, "While Starbucks may indeed encourage their employees to treat all customers with respect, their recent arguments in court call into question the true intent of their corporate position on LGBTQ rights. It is insincere for Starbucks to take this kind of public position in their customer marketing while treating their own transgender employees like second-class citizens."

Molly Spence Sahebjami, director of social impact communications at Starbucks, sent a statement to Windy City Times saying, "At Starbucks, it is important for all partners ( employees ) to feel welcome and comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. We have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind and are working to understand the facts of the situation."

Also, she outlined the company's equity and inclusion timeline at stories.starbucks.com/press/2019/starbucks-equity-and-inclusion-timeline ; there is also a Pride/LGBTQ timeline at stories.starbucks.com/stories/2019/starbucks-pride-a-long-legacy-of-lgbtq-inclusion .

Regarding gender-identity issues at Starbucks, Sahebjami said that, regarding benefits:

"More than a decade ago, we put in place Workplace Gender Transition Guidelines that supported partners who are transgender or considering transitioning.

"We cover gender reassignment surgery and hormones, and we cover procedures like breast reduction or augmentation surgery, facial feminization, hair transplants and voice therapy for transitioning partners."

The BuzzFeed article is at BuzzFeedNews.com/article/laurenstrapagiel/starbucks-transgender-employees .


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