starbucks uk trans commercial

Starbucks UK/YouTube

Pro-trans Starbucks ad leads to uproar on Twitter (updated)

Current and former employees are sharing their experiences with transphobia.


Collyn Burke


Posted on Feb 4, 2020   Updated on May 19, 2021, 4:19 pm CDT

On Sunday, Starbucks released a commercial in which a trans man is finally called by his name.

“At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome,” said an accompanying tweet from the Starbucks U.K. account. “Starbucks welcomes you, whoever you are.”

But praise for the ad was short-lived. Soon after the commercial was posted to Twitter, customers and current and former employees shared stories of transphobia they endured by workers at the coffee chain.

“Starbucks wouldn’t let me change my name on my login unless I legally changed it,” one user wrote. “They have also denied multiple trans employee’s request for gender confirming surgery. I have been outed by every manager about my trans identity without my consent.”

Many people said they were fired unjustly and had issues with getting the company insurance to help with gender confirmation surgery, something Starbucks says its healthcare plan has covered in the U.S. since 2012.

“I was fired under questionable circumstances days after my boss found out I was trans,” one user wrote. “I reported this fact to the district manager on my way out the door—now the bigoted manager who did it is the district manager.”

“I’ve worked with more transphobic and homophobic managers/shift supervisors in my seven years at Starbucks than I have at any other stodgy office job I’ve had—gotta love Starbucks’s commitment to being ‘woke’ and ‘hip,’ though,” another person wrote.

Others called out the company out for what they felt is performative allyship.

“@Starbucks you gotta up your LGBT training for your stores,” a user wrote. “These replies are embarrassing and point to a lack of training and education on how local staff leads should address issues. Also need a proper chain of escalation where people feel comfortable reaching out to fix issues.”

A member of the Starbucks media relations team told the Daily Dot that the stories on Twitter are “concerning.”

“It’s not aligned with our company’s values,” the spokesperson said. “We are currently looking into this and learning more.”

Update 12:55am CT, Feb. 5: In a statement to the Daily Dot, a Starbucks spokesperson addressed Twitter user @teejleaks’ claims of facing anti-trans discrimination by Starbucks employees.

“At Starbucks, it is important for all partners to feel welcome and comfortable bringing their whole selves to work,” the spokesperson said. “We have been working quickly to understand this partner’s experience, to ensure we are living our Mission and Values as partners, and helping ensure he feels supported.”


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*First Published: Feb 4, 2020, 1:43 pm CST