A TRANSGENDER woman facing discrimination from neighbours has offered to help a housing group train their staff in equality issues after they initially refused to help her.

Stephanie Elliott Lowther, 46, visited Middlesbrough’s Erimus Housing to request help with a move away from abusive neighbours.

Ms Lowther claims a member of staff then told her that she could not expect help from the organisation because being transgendered was a "lifestyle choice" and something of her own doing.

She said: “Erimus has a plaque on its wall about supporting diversity but I came away from there believing that they did not understand what being a transsexual was about.

"I was frustrated and told her that if I had any choice in the matter, I would not choose to be transgendered.”

After registering a formal complaint, Ms Lowther received an apologetic email from the company who pledged to offer more training on the issue to their staff. She is now in negotiations with Erimus to help deliver the training.

She said: “I hope this ensures others who go down this route find an easier reception when being dealt with. Only time will tell but it is encouraging to see Erimus tackling this matter head on.”

Saliah Hameed, Diversity Manager for Fabrick, the parent company of Erimus Housing, said: “We are committed to equality and diversity and will not tolerate discrimination on any grounds.

“All our members of staff undergo full equality and diversity training which is regularly updated and this situation has in fact highlighted the need for staff to undergo further even more enhanced training, which we have immediately started to look into.

“In fact we are now working with the customer to determine whether she would be able to help us with these training requirements and give us an even more realistic picture of the issues faced and how these can be handled sensitively.

“This was a genuine mix-up by a member of staff who immediately recognised she had not worded things correctly and apologised.”