Deep voice woman fights to prove identity - Says bank thinks she’s a man

February 10, 2021

A woman claims she has been barred from accessing funds in her account because representatives of a bank feel she has a man’s voice.

The woman, Tanice Smith, a 24-year-old customer care representative who speaks in a baritone voice, said that the problem began last October when she called Scotiabank Jamaica customer care centre seeking to have a matter resolved.

“During that conversation, the person that I was speaking with kept saying ‘Sir’. I corrected her and told her that I am not a male,” Smith said.

She said that the employee informed her that they were having technical issues with the account and that she would refer the matter to a supervisor. Smith added that nothing was done, even after she provided the supervisor with information that verified her as the bona fide holder.

The problem persisted for weeks and Smith said she contacted the bank again but was allegedly humiliated again after the conversation ended abruptly. She said that she called back numerous times and was finally told that the account was flagged and blocked. She said she was told to visit the bank to rectify the issue.

Very rude to me

“They were very rude to me. When I visited the bank and showed them proof that I am a woman, I started to realise that my voice was the problem. The person that I spoke with asked ‘you are Tanice?’ I said to her that I am sitting right here. Then she said ‘have you always sounded like this?’. I said to her that I have always sounded like this and that I don’t have a problem with how I sound,” she said. Smith said she was then questioned about her voice.

“So I told them it is not a medical issue and I won’t rectify something that is not broken. At that point, everybody was looking at me in the bank. Based on the conversation that we were having, I picked up that they thought I was transgender,” she said. Smith said that she has experienced voice changes since giving birth, and alleges that she even carried a video of her giving birth to the bank to verify her gender.

THE STAR contacted the bank’s communications manager, who said the bank “admonishes profiling, stereotyping and discrimination of any kind”.

“We are aware of the complaint which we take very seriously and we conducted the customer within hours of the complaint that was posted via social media. We have apologised for the negative experience and addressed the situation in order to prevent recurrence,” the manager said. “An internal investigation has also been conducted into the situation and we have taken steps to address actions that were not in keeping with our values, standards and policies.”

The manager also said the bank has a security screening process but said she could not disclose them.

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