A woman accused of being “transphobic” at Starbucks has revealed how she feared for her life after being kicked out of the cafe for using the word “lady” to describe a non-binary member of staff.
Vanessa Thomas, 55, was berated by the store manager, who is trans, after the customer inadvertently called another employee behind the counter a woman.
The footage was filmed by her partner Mark Andrews, who revealed he also feared for his safety when the manager of the store – which is part-owned by a licensor – tried to take his mobile phone from him and break it.
Ms Thomas, who works as a carer, told MailOnline exclusively: ‘The video doesn’t tell you the whole story. It was very frightening and shocking. The Starbucks manager grabbed me and threw me out of the cafe. I could have been seriously injured or even killed because if Mark hadn’t caught me I would have ended up on the sidewalk.
“What happened was disgusting and so far we haven’t even received an apology from Starbucks. I am 100% not transphobic or trans anything. That’s just not me at all. This manager was behaving horribly and should be prosecuted for seriously assaulting me.”
Vanessa Thomas, pictured with partner Mark Andrews, has revealed how she feared for her life after being kicked out of the cafe for using the word ‘lady’ to describe a member of staff without realizing they didn’t identify as female
Vanessa (pictured) was seen on camera being berated by a trans-Starbucks store manager at the branch near Southampton ferry terminal
Mr Andrews, a contractor, added: ‘I’m quite a big boy, but even I was very scared. When I saw the altercation ensue, I took out my phone and started filming. Then I saw the manager come to me and didn’t realize what they were about to do.
“The manager just attacked me and could have really hurt both myself and Vanessa. He had his hands on my phone and then he tried to grab my arms to try and get him off me to prevent me from filming. We are both still very shocked and upset by what happened. We’ve never experienced anything like this before.’
The couple, who live on the Isle of Wight, revealed that they had gone to Southampton on April 30 to shop and were waiting for the ferry to return home at around 4.45pm.
Ms Thomas said the altercation started after she was informed by a Starbucks employee who served her that they do not accept cash payments.
She added: “I spoke to someone who I thought was a lady behind the counter who served me. I complained that this is another company that doesn’t take cash and that I don’t like using contactless cards because I don’t want anyone to know what I’m buying.
The transstore manager then jumped in and I said, “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the lady behind the counter.” And then the store manager went all out, came out from behind the counter and confronted me.”
When the argument broke out, Mrs. Thomas demanded a refund, but was denied by the store manager.
She added, “I wasn’t trying to offend anyone. I have no problem with whatever gender people want to be. It was a real mistake as from what I could tell the person behind the counter was a woman. But genders aren’t that simple these days, that’s fine, but it can be confusing.’
During the angry confrontation, footage shows Ms Thomas defending herself, saying, “You are rude, never call me transphobic. You do not know me.’
The incident was recorded by Mrs Thomas’s partner, Mark Andrews, 60, who posted it on social media
A transgender woman was fired from Starbucks after footage showed her berating Ms Thomas and allegedly assaulting her partner who filmed the incident
Footage shows the transgender woman approaching the man who is filming after the argument before knocking his phone out of his hand
In response, the transgender Starbucks manager says, “You call me a man, you’re transphobic, Karen. Go now.’
“Karen” is a mocking insult from the US, aimed at middle-aged white women. Feminists have criticized it as a misogynistic term.
The conversation gets heated, as Mrs. Thomas insists, “don’t call me transphobic.”
The transgender employee then claps Ms. Thomas’s face and rejects her request for a refund, adding, “You’re transphobic, leave now.”
Ms Thomas said she and Mr Andrews had bought fruit juice, latte and cake which had cost them £10 and asked for a refund shortly after the argument with the trans store manager started.
She added: “I just wanted to leave and get my money back, but the manager said I couldn’t get a refund, which I found offensive.”
Ms Thomas said that after being grabbed and thrown out of the Starbucks, the store manager slammed a glass front door so hard it smashed.
She said: ‘The store manager then grabbed their coat and ran out the front door, which was a very cowardly thing to do. They didn’t even have the courage to explain and just wanted to get out.’
The couple revealed that they contacted the police immediately after the incident, who are now investigating the matter.
Ms Thomas said she has also sent numerous emails to Starbucks asking for CCTV of the incident, an apology and a refund.
She said, “Starbucks haven’t even had the decency to respond properly to my emails, they just want to wash their hands of the matter.” The least they can do is give me back my £10, it’s not much, but it’s all hard earned money.’
Ms Thomas said the altercation started after she was informed by a Starbucks employee who served her that they do not accept cash payments
Ms Thomas said that after being grabbed and thrown from the Starbucks, the store manager slammed a front glass door with such ferocity that it shattered
Andrews furious: “Starbucks just want to bury their heads in the sand. Vanessa has sent them quite a few emails and from the responses we’ve gotten it seems they just want to forget about it all.’
The pair are currently on holiday in Tenerife, which they say is helping them come to terms with their ordeal.
Ms Thomas said: ‘I am still very shocked and upset by what happened and the holiday certainly helped. I haven’t behaved badly and don’t expect to be treated that way when buying a cup of coffee.
“I’ve gotten a lot of supportive messages from friends, they know what I’m like and I’m not the kind of person who has a problem with trans people or anyone.”
A Starbucks spokesperson said earlier this week: “The licensee has confirmed that the partner (employee) is no longer with the company. Starbucks does not tolerate this type of behavior and we are deeply sorry for the experience this customer had.”
The company has been approached for further comment.