A transgender woman who became Britain’s youngest person to be accepted for gender reassignment aged 16 claims she cannot get a job because prospective employers google her past.
Rihanna Cooper, now 21, says her dream is to make a living as a care worker but she has applied for more than 100 jobs and is yet to secure a position.
Miss Cooper thought she had landed her dream job with a care provider, but claims she was summoned to their head office on Tuesday and told there was no longer a post for her.
She claims a manager told her they had googled her name and found an article featured in a national newspaper earlier this year.
Rihanna admitted to resorting to “dribs and drabs” of escort work in the past but says: “Being transgender does not make me any less of a person. I am no freak. I am not a murderer. I am a normal human being.
“Yes, I have made mistakes in the past, but haven’t we all?
“When I was 16 I got into escort work. I had no choice. How else was I keep a roof over my head? I couldn’t find a normal job. No one would touch me.”
Miss Cooper, who insists she gave up escorting “a couple of months ago”, says the latest setback in her goal to securing long- term work has left her feeling dejected.
“In the past year, I must have applied for over 100 jobs,” said Rihanna, of Hull, East Yorks.
“I’ve had three interviews. I was offered the carer’s position.
“Before Christmas I completed training courses. I was given a uniform to wear. I spent three days shadowing carers as they went into homes.
“The other girls said I was brilliant, but I had a phone call two days before Christmas asking me to go into the office.”
Miss Cooper claims the company had told her she was “unsuitable”.
Another manager told her she had googled her name and found an article featured in a national newspaper earlier this year, claims Miss Cooper.
“The article stated that I’d become an escort worker to pay for surgery,” she said.
“But that’s not right. I became an escort worker to put food on the table. To survive. But I no longer do that.”
Miss Cooper says she is close to despair at what she perceives to be a lack of job opportunities for transgender people in East Yorkshire.
“What else can I do?” she said. “I am not getting anywhere in life. No way do I want to claim benefits. I am proud. I have always supported myself. I want to work for my money.”
Miss Cooper’s mother, Elaine, 46, said: “I’m so worried. She was the happiest she has been in a long time when she was given that carer’s job. We need someone to give her a chance.”