(Trinidad Express) A woman who said she was treated in a discriminatory manner after she went to the renew her identification card at the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Tunapuna yesterday took to social media to share herordeal.
The woman who lives in Curepe said she was told by staff at EBC her identification card would not be renewed due to her coloured hair.
The 26 year old, who asked that her name be withheld has her hair coloured half pink and half blue.
In her post she said, “My name is Julie Mango, and I have weird hair. Half pink, half blue. Too bright. Too loud. But is it illegal? Of course not. Frowned upon, yes. Advised against, yes. But not illegal.”
She said, “I was told that coloured hair is unprofessional; they (EBC staff) called it unnatural hair and told me that ID cards are for business purposes.”
Her post which was circulated on social media sparked outrage from the public who questioned why her hair colour would be an issue since they too had coloured hair on all forms of identification.
One commenter said: As someone who has worked for the EBC in the past, I can assure you that there are no rules regarding hair colour, tattoos or piercings when taking photos.
In fact, such markings are welcomed as it makes it easier to confirm your identity during elections or even ID’ing your body at the morgue.
The only rule is that your face must not be obscured by your hair in the photo and should be pulled away from it.
Contact the EBC Head Office on Frederick Street and file a complaint.
Several hours after posting her complaint, the woman said, “I received another call from the EBC. A lady politely told me they received word from the CEO that although my hair is “too bright”, I can come back at my convenience and take a new photo with my hair as it is now, just put into a ponytail.”
The 26 year- old said, though her previous identification did not have her sporting coloured hair, she has had coloured hair for the past six years, and has done every colour of the rainbow.
She said, “During the process at the EBC, no one said anything to me about my hair. The lady who took my photo was very polite and only requested that I take off my glasses, to which I complied. I asked how I should arrange my hair (it was opened and pulled behind my ears at the time) and she didn’t specify to change anything about it, so I left it as it was.”
The woman said she was alsonursing a leg injury when she visited the office of the EBC.
She said, the elevator in the building was not working, which made it difficult to access the ID card office on the second floor.
“After I had completed the process, I left. While still in the nearby parking lot, the woman called me on the phone to tell me they would not be able to process the ID card,” she said.
Though the situation is rectified, the young woman is calling for an apology by the EBC for the callous treatment she received.
She says she understands that she may not fit into what some may call the ‘corporate look’ but that does not mean her unique look is unprofessional.
She said, “There should be some sort of protocol that the staff can follow when they encounter someone like me, instead of just refusing to answer simple questions, and hanging up on people. I only ask for more openness in alerting the public on the options they have available to them when their physical appearance does not conform to what is considered ‘normal’ by these outdated standards.”
“Aside from my hair colour, I hope something is done to fix the elevator so that differently abled people have full access to government services”, she said.